A parenting plan is an outline of how soon to be divorced parents will raise their children. Issues such as medical care, custody arrangements and where the children will be living are just of few of the matters that are addressed in this Court document. Georgia Statute O.C.G.A §19-9-1 makes it a requirement each parent prepare a parenting plan in all cases in which the custody of any child is at issue between the parents. They are required to include a recognition that:
- a continued parent-child relationship is in the child’s best interest.
- the child’s needs will change and grow as the child matures.
- a parent with physical custody will make day to day decisions and emergency decisions while the child is residing with said parent.
- that both parents will have access to all of the child’s records and information.
Most importantly, the parenting plan shall also include where and when a child will be in each parent’s physical care. As is often the case, most couples are not able to agree on key issues addressed by the parenting plan. In that event both parties will submit their plan and the judge will determine which is in the best interest of the child. When the parenting plan is being drafted and litigated it is important to ensure that your interests are adequately protected. This not only includes accounting for your current situation, (i.e., living conditions and financial stability), but also taking into account any changes that may occur in the future. This is important because there are no guarantees that you will be able to change it later.
Nonetheless, circumstances do often change in a persons lifestyle that may warrant a Court taking another look at a parenting plan. For instance, a former spouse may develop a drug addiction that could impact whether they should retain custody. Another example is when a parent experiences such a significant drop in income that they are no longer able to provide a safe living environment for the child. In either of those instances the affected parent can petition for a modification of the parenting plan and cite the changes in circumstances for the Court’s consideration.
In either instance, whether you are in the process of drafting a parenting plan for the first time or need to modify an existing plan, it is critical to have legal representation that specializes in these matters. The Faucette Law Firm represents clients in all divorce case, custody, child and spousal support, adoptions and modifications in the Douglasville, Marietta and Atlanta area. Contact our law firm today for a consultation.