One of the most difficult parts of any divorce is addressing custody of children. In Texas, part of every custody case is the development of a parenting plan. This is a proposed agreement between parents regarding the care, upbringing, and visitation of children once a divorce is final. Construction of a good plan, likely to be accepted by the courts, generally requires the expertise of the experienced family law attorneys.

What Is A Parenting Plan?

In Texas, family law attorneys state that parenting plans addressing visitation and child raising between divorced couples have replaced what was once known as the Standard Possession Order in the Texas Family Code. A parenting plan is a legal agreement between parents as to how they will “co-parent” and continue to raise their children, covering everything from daily care and financial responsibility to visitation rights.

The purpose of this newer agreement form is settle the main issues of custody, support, and visitation and then work on smaller details. The goal is that each parent understand their role in child-raising within the individual circumstances of the divorce to avoid questions of responsibility. The goal of dedicated family law attorneys as well as the court is for parents to work together for the benefit of their children and provide the best possible upbringing even if the family unit is no longer together.

Developing A Parenting Plan

Good parenting plans are designed with the children in mind, making it essential to work with attorneys familiar with family law and child custody cases. Such lawyers understand the many intricacies that must be addressed to arrive at a workable parenting plan that will be approved by the court.

According to Texas family law, a parenting plan must include detailed outlines pertaining to a number of specific topics that include:

  • Custody Issues – Physical custody, visitation rights, schedules, and access to children.

  • Duties – Parental duties and rights with regard to children.

  • Financial SupportChild support and financial responsibility.

  • Communications – Dialogue between children and parents; willingness to encourage the development of good relationships with both parents.

  • Other – A decision-making process for other concerns such as education, medical care, holiday or vacation time, and any unexpected situations that may arise.

Outlining and agreeing to all necessary concerns is often challenging when couples are divorcing. Besides working with their own family lawyers, the court also assigns a Parenting Coordinator. This person acts as an impartial third opinion in the development of the most fair and beneficial parenting plan to present to the courts.

Divorce is never easy; when children are involved, it can be even more complex. In Texas, family law courts find that asking parents to work together to create an agreeable parenting plan is the most efficient way to ensure that children are not caught in the middle. A parenting plan ensures good communication by all and allows each parent to know exactly what is expected of each one of them in order to avoid difficult family confrontations.

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