The State of Colorado encourages parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising their children and to encourage and be supportive of the loving relationships and contact the children have with each of them.
A parenting plan is a written document confirming what the parents have agreed to with respect to their children. It lays out the agreement between two parents about parenting time, decision making, child support and payment of expenses for the children, and health insurance coverage, among other issues.
There are many topics to consider when writing a parenting plan. From what is an appropriate parenting time schedule to how you and your co-parent will make important decisions concerning your child, parenting plans can be a wide-ranging document. While it might seem like a lot to plan for, the most important thing to keep in mind when writing your plan is to keep every issue centered on maintaining your children’s well-being and upholding their best interests.
A parenting plan in Colorado should encompass the laws and requirements of the State and include at least the following elements:
· An agreement between the parties pertaining to parental responsibilities
· A basic parenting time schedule that reflects when the child will spend time with each parent on a regular and ongoing basis and how parenting time exchanges will occur
· A parenting time schedule for holidays and vacations, including school and personal vacations
· A provision that allocates decision-making responsibilities and the rights of each parent
· A provision that addresses child support and payment of expenses for the children
· A plan for resolving any potential disputes that may occur, such as attending family counseling or mediation
As long as your case does not involve domestic violence or abuse, mutually agreeing upon a parenting plan is the ideal method in determining parenting time and parental responsibilities.
If you and the other parent are able to agree on the terms and conditions of the custody arrangements, the court will generally conclude that your plan is in the best interest of the children and accept it.
If you and the other parent are not able to agree, the court has the authority to mandate that you and the other parent attend parenting classes or go to mediation.
If you go to court, the judge will determine what goes into your agreement. The court shall make this decision based on what is in the best interests of your children.
Modification is possible. Parenting plan modifications usually occur when there is a change in circumstances, such as one parent moving away, a child custody change, or a change in the visitation schedule. Major modifications occur when there is a change in custody, and minor modifications center more on visitation schedule changes.
If both parents agree to the changes to the parenting plan, then it is fairly simple to get the agreement changed. If there is disagreement over the changes, then the parents will need to go to court to prove that there is an adequate change in the circumstances to warrant modifying the parenting plan.
The parenting plan is a crucial part of the custody process in Colorado and it requires time and care. Our experienced team at Lewis & Matthews P.C can help you create a plan that meets the needs of you and your children.
Call Lewis & Matthews P.C. at 720.330.4866 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.