Divorce Issues: Parenting Plan
Washington family law requires divorcing couples with minor children to formulate a Parenting Plan. If the couple cannot do so due to disputes between them, the court may develop a Parenting Plan for the couple.
A Parenting Plan contains the following:
- Residential Schedule or which parent the child live with and the amount of time to be spent with the other parent
- Allocation of decision-making responsibility or authority or which parent will make major decisions about the child
- Dispute resolution process or how to resolve disputes in the future
A residential schedule describes the children’s living arrangement. It specifies the amount of time each parent will be spending with the children. It considers special occasions such as holidays, birthday of family members and vacations.
The court will give more time to the parent who is more involved in the children’s day to day lives and who has established a stronger relationship with the children.
A Parenting Plan also identifies which parent will be making major decisions such as the children’s education, healthcare and religious upbringing. In an emergency, either parent may make decisions on the child’s health and safety.
Dispute Resolution Process
Sometimes disputes may occur after the Parenting Plan has been approved by the court. A Parenting Plan includes a process of resolving conflicts in such cases. For instance, a mediator or an agency may be named to help them settle their disputes.
While the couple is working out their marital arrangement, a Temporary Parenting Plan may be issued. It is effective only until a final Parenting plan is approved by the court.