How to Create a Successful Parenting Plan with Your Ex

Divorce is tough for anyone, but it is especially tough on children.

While it may seem daunting to develop a plan for co-parenting with your ex, it is an important step to take for the well-being of your child.

Whether the relationship had a tough or friendly ending, it’s important to develop a successful parenting plan so that your child does not have additional issues on top of the divorce.

Here are a few tips to consider when developing that plan with your ex.

1. Consider Your Child’s Activities

While your routines need to be compatible with your parenting plan, your child’s activities must also be compatible. For example, pickups must be considered if your child has sports practices, and their school schedule must be accounted for.

If you’re looking to split time with your ex, both of you must be well aware of your child’s schedule and know where to pick them up and what they need to do. After all, your child’s needs must come first.

2. Involve Your Child in the Process

Though it may be impractical if you have a young child, teens or older children, they want their opinions heard. This is a decision that will directly impact them so you may want to consider involving them in the process.

Their involvement will only help you develop a smarter plan for everyone. If there’s anyone that knows what is most ideal for them, it is your children. They may provide some valuable insight as to their preferences during the process.

3. Choose a Good Communication Style

Communicating with your ex is always tough. Oftentimes, it can lead to fights or at the very least some passive aggressiveness. In order to avoid this, you may want to structure your communication style with your ex to avoid conflict.

One example of good structure is looking into a set schedule of communication. On top of that, you may want to consider having topics ready to discuss in advance so that the conversation doesn’t devolve into anger.

4. Be Open to Change

There are many reasons why a parenting plan can change over time. From differences in locations, to differences in your child’s life, to differences in the way your child grows, there are many aspects that may impact your plan.

For that reason, you’ll want to be ready to change or even completely re-examine your parenting plan. While this may seem like a stressful change to go through, it may be necessary and ultimately beneficial in the long run.

Don’t be afraid of change. Instead, meet it head on and come out better from it!

The Importance of a Parenting Plan

While working together with your ex may be the last thing you want to do, both of you will need to contribute to an ultimately successful parenting plan. Doing so will ensure the well-being of yourself, your ex, and most importantly, your child.

If you’re going through changes in your family life right now, from divorce to potentially adopting a child, be sure to connect with us for support during this process.

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Milestones for Re-Examining Parenting Plan

Milestones for Re-Examining Parenting Plan

When you got divorced, you and your spouse had a parenting plan set up for children.

You may be wondering if that parenting plan can be modified.

In this article, we will list milestones you should pay attention to for re-examining your parenting plan.

Changes in the Needs of Your Child

If there have been changes in the needs of your child since your original parenting plan was established, then it is a good time to ask for a re-examination of your parenting plan.

Examples of these changes might include:

  • Medical Needs: Your child may develop additional or new medical needs. These needs could result in higher medical costs, additional resources needed for care, or additional time investment to treat your child(ren).  In this type of situation, it would be absolutely reasonable to re-examine child support and ask for a modification.
  • The Behavior of Child: As your grows, he/she may act out towards one or both parents.  In fact, some of this is probably to be expected, puberty is rough for everyone!   If the custodial parent is not taking the proper actions to help the child grow in a healthy way (mentally or physically), or you believe their emotional and social challenges to be caused by what is going on at home, you can ask that you become the custodial parent or to otherwise modify the parenting plan to address these issues. 
  • Age of child: When your child becomes a teenager, he or she may voice their opinion about what parent they would rather live with. The court will take their opinion into consideration and possibly modify the parenting plan.

Financial Changes

If one parent’s financial situation changes, it might be time to re-examine the parenting plan.  For example, if the custodial parent loses their job, then he/she can request a child support modification.  Another example is if the non-custodial parent takes a pay cut, then he or she can request a child support modification.

Changes in Family Makeup

If a child reaches the age of majority, then child support will need to be modified.  Also, if custody changes from one parent to the other by any of the children, then child support will also need to be modified.

Relocation

If the custodial parent wants to relocate, then the parenting plan does not necessarily need to be re-examined unless the non-custodial parent can prove there has been a substantial change that affects the welfare of the child.  The court may also look at how a relocation will affect the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent.  Other things the court will look at are:

  • Best interest of the child
  • Reason for relocation
  • Degree to which it would improve the child’s health, education, and general circumstances

South Carolina Law

South Carolina Law (S.C. Code Ann. § 63-15-240(B)) lists factors that the court should consider when determining what is in the best interest of your child.  A few of these are:

  1. The temperament and developmental needs of the child;
  2. The preferences of each minor child;
  3. The capacity and disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
  4. The wishes of each parent as to custody;
  5. The past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings, and relatives who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
  6. The actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, including compliance with court orders;
  7. Any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents to involve the child in the parents’ dispute;
  8. Any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child;
  9. The ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
  10. The child’s adjustment to his or home, school, and community environments; and
  11. The stability of the child’s existing and proposed residences.

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Creating a Parenting Plan for a New Baby

Creating a Parenting Plan for a New Baby

If you are an unmarried, separated couple expecting a new baby, you may have some concerns involving a parenting plan.

Concerns might be who is going to have primary custody of the baby or how often is the non-custodial parent going to see the baby.

All of this can be worked through and figured out by establishing a parenting plan.

About Your Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is an agreement set up by both parents for how they will take care of a child or children.

Within the plan, different factors need to be decided on ahead of time.

Here are several items you should consider including, or at least discussing with your attorney when drafting a parenting plan:

  • Deciding the custodial parent: This can be either one parent or the other, or you can set up joint custody with both parents.
  • Visitation Rights & Plans: If there is only one custodial parent, you may need to decide how often the non-custodial parent gets the child. It can be anything that works for your family and has the best interest of the child.  An example might be that the custodial parent has the child during the week and the non-custodial parent has the child every other weekend.
  • How you will manage significant events: There will be birthday parties.  Or maybe the grandparents want your child to spend the night with them. How will this work with your parenting plan?  You need to make sure this is figured out now so it will not cause problems later.
  • Lock Down Child Support:  The parenting plan can be a place to discuss how child support will work. This can be agreed upon both parents ahead of time or may need to be decided by a family court judge.
  • Residence:  Where the primary residence of the child be? It usually is with whoever has main custody of the child.
  • How will expected and unexpected expenses be handled: We already talked about child support, but there may be other expenses such as medical expenses that need to be decided.
  • There will be BIG future decisions:  Things such as education, healthcare, religious practices, and discipline should also be decided in the parenting plan. This will help decide how these will be taken care of in the future.
  • Other things unique to your circumstances:  Anything else you may find important for your child such as diet, curfew, seeing extended family, etc. should also be included in your parenting plan.

Why it is Important to Create a Parenting Plan

You and the other parent may be agreeable now, but that may not be the case in the future.  Having a parenting plan set up ahead of time will save everyone a lot of stress and arguments later.  Get this figured out today, it protects you, it protects your kids, and it protects your sanity.

If you’re hesitant because of a major life change going on right now (like you’re getting divorced…) – this will become your anchor.  It is not something to put off to reduce stress.  It is something to do today, to reduce stress!

Moreover, it can be flexible an change as your dynamic changes.  If there are any major situation changes in the future, it is possible to modify your parenting plan so do not let that be the reason you do not set one up as soon as possible.

Who Can Create a Parenting Plan

You and your child’s other parent can set up a parenting plan on your own as long as you both agree to all conditions. However, you might not be thinking of every possible situation.  It is a great idea to reach out to someone with years of experience drafting these plans, modifying these plans, and fully understanding the scope of these parenting plans.  In short, you want to talk to a lawyer.

If you need assistance creating a parenting plan or if you have questions, please feel free to contact us.

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When A Custody Modification is Necessary to Your Parenting Plan

If you have a parenting plan set up for your child, you should know when a custody modification is necessary. There are three main reasons that you might want to request custody modifications. Reason 1:  The Fitness/Unfitness of Parent If you believe the other parent is not a fit parent, then you may be thinking about asking for custody modification.  This reason can be very tricky.  You will need to prove that the other parent cannot care for your child.  This leads to hurt feelings and potential mudslinging.  Before you request a modification to your parenting plan, make sure you are not just trying to hurt the other parent and that you have sufficient proof. On the other hand, if you are the non-custodial parent and believe that you are now fit to parent your child, you can request custody modifications. Again, you have to be able to prove that you are now more fit than when the original parenting plan was set up.  You also have to have evidence that it is in your child’s best interest to modify your existing arrangement. Reason 2: Your Child is Having Problems If your child has begun to have problems either at home or at school and you believe that they are caused by the circumstances of your child’s life with the other parent, then you want to ask for custody modifications.  You will need to prove that your child is having legitimate problems and that the custodial parent is either not concerned or not able to address the problems.  You must also prove that you are the best parent to resolve these problems. Reason 3: Preference of Your Child This occurs most often when your child becomes a teenager.  The court will listen to your child’s preference and take into consideration when making any parenting plan.  The court understands though that sometimes, teenagers want to live with the least restrictive parent and will keep that in mind too.  The judge would consider your child’s age, their maturity, and their judgment along with their preference. South Carolina Law South Carolina Law (S.C. Code Ann. § 63-15-240(B)) lists factors that the court should consider when determining what is in the best interest of your child.  A few of these are: The temperament and developmental needs of the child; The preferences of each minor child; The capacity and disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child; The wishes of each parent as to custody; The past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings, and relatives who may significantly affect the best interest of the child; The actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, including compliance with court orders; Any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents to involve the child in the parents’ dispute; Any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child; The ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child; The child’s adjustment to his or home, school, and community environments; and The stability of the child’s existing and proposed residences. Reasons You Should Not Make Custody Modifications Remarrying or having another child in the case of either the custodial or non-custodial parent, are not good reasons to ask for custody modifications.  Even though you or the other parent may feel that the home has become more stable or unstable, you still have to prove that it affects your child. If you have questions about custody modifications or would like help requesting one, please feel free to contact us. You must be able to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstance that occurred after the most recent custody order and the substantial change affects the child’s best interests and welfare.

If you have a parenting plan set up for your child, you should know when a custody modification is necessary.

There are three main reasons that you might want to request custody modifications.

Reason 1: The Fitness/Unfitness of Parent

If you believe the other parent is not a fit parent, then you may be thinking about seeking a custody modification.

This particular issue can be very tricky.  You will need to prove that the other parent cannot provide care for your child.  You might imagine, this leads to hurt feelings and potential mudslinging.  So stand by for additional stress!

Note: Before you request a modification to your parenting plan, make sure you are not just trying to hurt the other parent and that you have sufficient proof.

On the other hand, if you are the non-custodial parent and believe that you are now fit to parent your child, you can request custody modifications. Again, you have to be able to prove that you are now more fit than when the original parenting plan was set up.  You also have to have evidence that it is in your child’s best interest to modify your existing arrangement.

Reason 2: Your Child is Having Problems

If your child has begun to have problems either at home or at school and you believe that they are caused by the circumstances of your child’s life with the other parent, then you want to ask for custody modifications.

You will need to prove that your child is having legitimate problems and that the custodial parent is either not concerned or not able to address the problems.  You must also prove that you are the best parent to resolve these problems.

Reason 3: Preference of Your Child

This reason occurs most often when your child becomes a teenager and starts seeking more independence – or even working both parents against each other.

The court will listen to your child’s preference and take into consideration when making any parenting plan.  The court understands though that sometimes, teenagers want to live with the least restrictive parent and will keep that in mind too.

The judge would consider your child’s age, their maturity, and their judgment along with their preference.

South Carolina Law

South Carolina Law (S.C. Code Ann. § 63-15-240(B)) lists factors that the court should consider when determining what is in the best interest of your child.  A few of these are:

  1. The temperament and developmental needs of the child;
  2. The preferences of each minor child;
  3. The capacity and disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
  4. The wishes of each parent as to custody;
  5. The past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings, and relatives who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
  6. The actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, including compliance with court orders;
  7. Any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents to involve the child in the parents’ dispute;
  8. Any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child;
  9. The ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
  10. The child’s adjustment to his or home, school, and community environments; and
  11. The stability of the child’s existing and proposed residences.

You must be able to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstance that occurred after the most recent custody order and the substantial change affects the child’s best interests and welfare.

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If you need help with any issues surrounding a parenting plan modification, reach out to us today!

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How to Create a Parenting Plan Prior to Divorce

How to Create a Parenting Plan Prior to Divorce

If you and your spouse are going to file for divorce and you have children, one of the most important things to do first is to create a mutually agreeable parenting plan.

You may be unsure of how to create a parenting plan prior to a divorce.

This article will give you some guidance and resources to help.

What a Parenting Plan Is

A parenting plan, in short, sets up how your children will be co-parented by you and your spouse while you work through your Orders of Separate Maintenance and Support and then after your divorce is finalized.  Your parenting plan will state who has custody of your children, when, how often the children are with each spouse, and can specify whether you or spouse can move outside of their current school district.  Each parenting plan is specialized to the needs of the family it comes from.  Which means, it is best to talk about this, even if you are still exploring your options, with an experienced lawyer.

Who Makes the Parenting Plan

If you and your spouse can set your differences aside and discuss what is best for your children, then the two of you can work together to come up with a parenting plan that fits your family.  If the particulars are going to be contentious, you are likely headed for mediation, or worse.  It may end up being a court that decides the plan in the end.  There is a risk in whichever direction this takes, so make sure you have a chance to get completely honest with your attorney while exploring something like a parenting plan.

What to Think About When Making a Parenting Plan

There are many aspects to think about when you are setting up a parenting plan.  You may not feel that you need to get very specific, but altering your plan later is much harder, and potentially painful, than getting it right the first time.  Consider that this whole process is going to be stressful for all parties and it can end up in a place where ambiguities in your parenting plan become severe bones of contention later on.  Do it right.

Some things to consider when writing your parenting plan:

Residence: Where will your children live?  Residency should be the first thing you decide.  Your children want to know as soon as possible.  You will need to determine which parent the children will live with and what percentage of the time.

Parenting Schedule: You need to make sure that the schedule you set up for your children to spend time with both of you correlates with the schedules of both parents.  Each of you needs to be able to spend enough time with your children).  Try to come up with a parenting time rotation that allows both parents ample time with the kids.  If it is too complicated to set up a regular rotation, then set up visitation time or schedule more extended amounts of parenting time with the parent who is available.

Event Planning: There will be times that your children will be invited to birthday parties or to stay the night with grandparents.  Allowing them to do so on occasion is essential.  Also, planning for birthdays and holidays can make a parenting plan go more smoothly.  If Mother’s Day falls on a day that dad has the children, figure out a way to allow them to be with mom that day and maybe set up an alternative day for dad.

Expenses: You will need to decide how to handle child-related expenses.  For example, if your children are on your spouse’s health insurance, you may want to be responsible for co-pays since your spouse pays monthly premiums.  You can split some expenses 50/50, but you may need to split others differently depending on each household.   You also need to decide child support payments and schedule.  A judge will decide on support payments if you do not do it before your divorce.

Big Future Decisions: Decisions for education, healthcare, religious practices, discipline, and such are big decisions that should be made by both parents.  If you and your spouse can make these decisions together, then decide how communication and decision making will work.  If you are unable to agree, then involving your lawyer might be a good step.

Other: There may be things other than what is listed above that is important to you such as curfew, diet, seeing extended family, etc.  If it is important to either you or spouse, include it in your parenting plan.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed!

Coming up with a parenting plan can be overwhelming, especially if you and your spouse are finding it difficult to get along.  It is not required to use a lawyer during this time, but we suggest that if you cannot agree with each other, or even if you fear that you will not, contact a divorce lawyer.

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