When parents decide to live apart, they must arrange for the care of their minor children and develop a plan that preserves each parent’s relationship with each child. Parenting plans in Stamford establish where the child will live, where they will attend school, where they will spend holidays, and many other issues.

Creating a parenting plan is often one of the most complicated aspects of separation or divorce. However, courts will not approve a separation agreement or issue a divorce to parents of minor children unless the parents have a parenting plan that supports the children’s best interests. A seasoned child custody attorney can work with a couple, or one parent, to develop a parenting plan that meets all legal requirements. Most importantly, they can guide parents to create a plan that best supports their children during a tumultuous time.

Purpose of a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan establishes arrangements governing child custody, visitation, and decision-making responsibility. The law presumes parents are most likely to know what is best for their children and what will work for their family, and courts prefer that parents agree on these issues when they decide to live apart.

Connecticut law presumes joint custody, where both parents have approximately equal time with the children and share decision-making authority, to be in the children’s best interests. Parents seeking a different arrangement should document why joint custody will not work for them. When a couple cannot agree on a parenting plan, they each submit a proposal, and the court may adopt one or create a different one.

Courts understand it is difficult for children when their parents decide to live apart. A parenting plan should provide stability and clear expectations. It helps the children understand that their parents will preserve their relationships with them even though their relationship is different. A parenting plan also demonstrates that Stamford parents will work together to ensure the children benefit from their connection to both parents.

Parenting Plan Requirements

Connecticut General Statutes §46b-56a-d discusses the factors a court must consider when awarding custody and visitation. In addition, the court system publishes a parenting plan template that parents could fill in or use to guide their negotiations.

Even when parents agree on a parenting plan, a court must review and approve it before incorporating it into an enforceable court order. Parents should use as much detail as possible to ensure they provide the court with the guidance it needs, including:

  • Which parent will provide a home for the children most of the time, or whether parents will share physical custody
  • Whether parents will share decision-making authority and how they will resolve disputes
  • If one parent will hold sole decision-making authority and a provision defining their obligation to consult or inform the other parent
  • A realistic schedule allowing both parents reasonable time with the children, unless one parent seeks to prevent the other from having unsupervised access to the children
  • Transportation arrangements between the parents’ homes and the children’s schools and activities
  • Holiday arrangements, including which holidays each child will spend with each parent

The parenting plan also should include a parental “code of conduct”—rules the parents agree to follow, such as not disparaging the other parent or introducing a new love interest to the children.

Parenting plans in Stamford also contain the parties’ financial arrangements regarding the children. The plan should address child support, health insurance for the children, and work-related childcare responsibilities. A legal representative can advise a parent about the legal requirements for the financial support of children.

A Plan Must Support the Children’s Best Interests

A judge must review any parenting plan to determine whether it supports the children’s best interests, as outlined in Connecticut General Statutes §46b-56(c). A judge must consider the temperament and needs of each child, each parent’s ability to understand and meet each child’s needs, and the stability of each parent’s home, among other factors.

Parents engaged in an emotionally charged separation or divorce sometimes have difficulty disconnecting their own best interests from that of their children. A Stamford attorney can assist parents in focusing on their children’s needs and crafting a parenting plan that addresses them appropriately.

Contact an Attorney for Help Developing Parenting Plans in Stamford

A parenting plan is essential if you and your co-parent have agreed to live separately. Developing it yourselves or with the help of an attorney or mediator keeps control in your hands and ensures the plan will be workable for your family.

Seek advice from a local attorney if you must negotiate a parenting plan in Stamford. A legal professional from our firm can ensure your agreement meets all legal requirements. Schedule an appointment today.

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1700 Bedford Street Suite 202 Stamford CT 06905 (203) 599-7498