LEGAL GUIDANCE FOR ATLANTA RESIDENTS IN CHILD CUSTODY MATTERS
Any time a divorcing couple in Georgia has minor children, state law requires them to develop a Parenting Plan to determine beforehand how they are going to share all the responsibilities of parenting subsequent to the separation. If you need assistance in putting together this arrangement, you should consider consulting our child custody attorney at Rowsey & Stelter. We have helped numerous individuals in Atlanta and beyond with a broad variety of family law matters related to divorce, including Parenting Plans.
PARENTING PLANS MUST BE DETAILED AND THOROUGH
A Parenting Plan outlines in extensive detail how divorcing spouses intend to share the responsibilities of parenthood from separation until their child or children are independent or emancipated. If the parents can reach agreement on all points, they can file a joint Parenting Plan with the court for approval. If the parents do not agree, or agree only with respect to some of the points, they can file separate Parenting Plans to the court, and the court will resolve any conflicts according to its own judgment of what is in the best interests of the child.
The reason for Georgia’s Parenting Plan requirement is to avoid additional rancor or conflict between divorcing spouses that may have further adverse effects on their children. Requiring the parents to put their agreement down on paper and in explicit detail makes it possible to avoid or at least minimize any confusion, misunderstanding, or disagreement in the future. However, in order for a Parenting Plan to satisfy this goal, it must, to the extent practicable, address every matter and contingency that may concern any children.
Consequently, even the most basic Plan must address the following:
- Physical custody. Georgia favors joint physical custody, which means that both parents are entitled to have the child live with them some of the time, but it does not require equal time.
- Legal custody. This is the right to make decisions regarding medical care, education, religious instruction, and extracurricular activities for the children. If the parents share joint legal custody, the agreement must specify how disagreements will be resolved.
- Custody and visitation schedule. The plan must be very specific, including which days will be spent with each parent, the times and places for children to be picked up or dropped off, who is responsible for transportation and transportation costs, how parents will handle schedule changes, where and how the children will spend their time on holidays, birthdays, and school vacations, how vacation trips with either parent must be planned and scheduled, and when the parenting plan schedule is to take effect.
- How and when either parent may contact the children, or the children may contact the parent, when in the physical custody of the other parent.
- Whether and when outside supervision is required for any visitation.
- How parents will share or provide access to information and records.
- Provisions for the modification or amendment of the Parenting Plan.
CONSULT AN ATLANTA ATTORNEY FOR ADVICE FOLLOWING A DIVORCE
Parenting Plans require a great deal of thought not only about what either parent may want, but about what is practicable, fair, and workable in the long term. Frequently, they require both parties to compromise and negotiate their way through a great number of matters, and the process can become frustrating and exhausting. Yet a good Parenting Plan is critical if the parties are to find relative stability as it is put into practice.
Every family requires different parenting arrangements. If you are interested in working with an attorney who has helped numerous clients to reach agreement on Parenting Plans, contact Rowsey & Stelter at 770-993-5317, or use our online form to set up your consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area, including Marietta, Johns Creek, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Milton, and other communities in Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton Counties.