18 May Common Parenting Time Questions
Divorce and separations are emotionally strenuous processes for everyone involved, especially children. Whenever minors are involved, a document called a parenting time schedule is created to decide who gets to spend time with child during specific days and times. This extremely personal process commonly involves disagreement. However, it is important to remember the key to building a schedule the assigned judge will accept is to create the plan that fits the child’s best interests.
What happens to my child during divorce proceedings, before a parenting time schedule is approved?
During the period in which both parties are creating and negotiating on the official parenting time schedule, the parents should come to an agreement on a temporary schedule. Ideally, this will not involve the court. However, if a temporary agreement cannot be reached, one or both parties can petition the Court to set a temporary schedule.
Enforcing a parenting time schedule without a court order is difficult, especially for the party whom the child does not primarily reside. Police are often hesitant to intervene in parenting time issues if the parties do not have a court order that clearly indicates which parent is entitled to parenting time for the time in question. Ideally parties will have a temporary order entered while waiting for the official parenting time schedule to be approved.
What should be considered when creating a parenting time schedule?
Simply put, the parenting time schedule should be built to reflect the best interest and needs of the child. Factors to consider include: work schedules, location of the child’s school, schedule of extracurricular activities and travel time between residences. When creating a residential plan, try to keep the child’s routine as consistent as possible. This may mean compromising on pick-up and drop-off times if they require long car trips.
It is important to plan ahead for holidays and school breaks to minimize conflict when the routine of the schedule changes.
What is the process for creating parenting time?
Creating a parenting time schedule traditionally happens outside the courtroom, with both parties creating a schedule with a detailed list of dates, times and conditions. The document will consist of a rotating schedule that stipulates when each parent will care for and spend time with the child each week, holiday, birthday and school break. Once both parties agree on the parenting time schedule, it can be brought before a judge for final approval.
What if I want to change the parenting time schedule?
Changes are not typically made to a parenting time schedule within two years of the agreement unless both parties agree to the revisions. If there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a parent getting a new job, then the court could consider approving a change.
What if my child disagrees with or refuses to abide by the parenting time schedule?
Occasionally, children rebel against the parenting time agreement. When the minor refuse to follow the schedule, the court will likely order a child representative to uncover why the child does not want to comply to ensure it is not caused by an underlying issue with one or both parties.
What if one parent feels the other does not have the ability to properly care for the child?
There may be situations in which one parent believes the other cannot properly care for their child for various reasons. In these scenarios, they can take steps to alter the parenting time schedule. However, they must make a concerted effort and provide proof of their attempts to resolve the situation prior to taking it to the court. Documentation is essential in proving the inquiry is serious and comes from a genuine concern for the child’s best interests.
The most important goal to keep in mind is providing the best possible life for the child(ren). Actively working towards the best interests of a child can paint a clearer picture for the future during the adjustment period. Additionally, working with a professional family-law attorney will lessen the stress of the situation, as they will be able to navigate the complex processes efficiently and thoroughly.