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What is a parenting plan?

Colorado parents who divorce will need to develop a parenting plan to outline how their children will be cared for following the dissolution of the marriage. A parenting plan may also be put in place for individuals who never married but have filed an allocation of parental responsibilities action with the court. If parents are unable to agree on a plan, the court may step in and prepare one.

A parenting plan should be drawn up with the best interests of the child in mind, even if those interests do not agree with the parents' personal wishes. Things that should be taken into account when creating these plans are the age, emotional needs and development of the child as well as the parents' schedules and where each parent lives.

Among the topics most commonly covered by a parenting plan is how much time each parent will have with the child. The plan will also address which parent will be given the ability to make choices about a child's upbringing or if this responsibility will be shared. However, it is not uncommon for these plans to also cover a variety of issues, including child support, health and dental insurance coverage and how disputes are to be handled.

Issues related to child custody can be both contentious and complex, and the law has a focus on what is in the best interests of the child, leaving judges with a fair amount of leeway in deciding these matters. A family law attorney can provide advice to a client seeking to create or amend a parenting plan in order to obtain court approval.

Source: Colorado Bar Association , "Your Parenting Plan", September 22, 2014

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