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Filing a Parenting Plan

What You Need to Know About Filing a Parenting Plan With the Court

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In some states, parents must prepare and file a parenting plan, while other states do not require parents to create a formal parenting agreement. Let's explore some reasons why a parent should consider filing a parenting plan even if they're not obligated to:

File a Parenting Plan

Reasons why you should file a parenting plan include:

  • To demonstrate to the judge that you have carefully thought about how you plan to raise your children together

  • To decrease the judge's workload

  • To clarify the residential schedule, which can also make it easier for a judge to make a ruling about child support

  • In the event that either parent doesn't follow the parenting plan, the judge can later refer to the original plan as evidence of the initial agreement

Things to Do Before Filing a Parenting Plan

Parents who are not obligated to file a parenting plan should consider the following before attempting to file a parenting agreement with the state:

  • Speak with a qualified attorney in your state
  • Speak with the child's other parent
  • Speak with other parents who have been through the process
  • Gather the necessary documentation, such as child-related expenses, the child's school schedule, and extracurricular activities
  • Map the distance between the parents' homes
  • Access the child custody laws in your state; you might stumble upon free resources

Where to File a Parenting Plan

Parents should file a parenting plan in one of the following places:

  • In the county court where the child lives, or
  • In the county where the non-custodial parent lives

Barriers to Having the Parenting Plan Honored in Court

Although a court will generally respect the decisions reached by the parents as to the upbringing of their child, a court will not support the following parenting plans:

  • Where a parent who has been accused of domestic violence against the other parent or the child is granted primary custody of the child
  • There is evidence of coercion, where one of the parents is forced into agreeing to the parenting plan
  • Agreements that do not serve the best interests of the child

For more information about child custody, refer to specific child custody guidelines of your state. You may also speak with a qualified attorney in your state.

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