Parenting Plans

Parenting Plans
Massachusetts Parenting Plans

Parenting Plans

Creating a successful and effective parenting plan in Massachusetts is essential. Not only will it protect your rights and the health and well-being of your children, but it will also save you untold frustration and difficulty. Developing a parenting plan that complies with Massachusetts law is an integral part of your divorce. Often, a parenting plan can be negotiated and agreed to by the parties, but when it can’t, your lawyer can ask the judge to enter your proposed plan as a court judgment.

When you have children and are getting divorced, you should have an experienced Massachusetts child custody attorney at your side to protect both you and your children’s rights. You do not have to face this difficult time alone.

Developing a Proposed Parenting Plan

Developing a parenting plan requires communication with your attorney and negotiation with your soon-to-be former spouse and their lawyer. Positive collaboration between the parties is almost always the most effective and efficient approach to developing a plan everyone can live with. A plan everyone can agree to saves both sides the cost of litigating the issue and the incredible headache resulting from a plan the other spouse refuses to stick to.

A parenting plan ensures that all parties understand the expectations involved with:

  • parenting responsibilities,
  • scheduling,
  • transportation, and
  • aspects of the children’s lives.

With the help of an experienced Massachusetts divorce lawyer, you can develop a parenting plan that will work for you and your family.

When Parents Cannot Agree

Sometimes, parents cannot agree on a parenting plan. In this case, it will ultimately be up to the court to determine what is in the children’s best interests. The judge will focus on what is in the children’s best interest, not what is convenient for either of the parents.

A judge can consider certain factors when determining what parenting plan to adopt, including, but not limited to:

  • the relationship between the parents and the children
  • if the child has special needs
  • the child’s wishes and desires, if the child is old enough
  • whether a particular aspect of the plan is what is best for the child
  • the convenience of the parties
  • When parents cannot agree, an experienced Pennsylvania divorce lawyer is essential to presenting a plan to the judge that protects your and your children’s interests.

Contents of a Massachusetts Parenting Plan

Most Massachusetts courts require parenting plans to be submitted when parents are applying for joint custody. This can be a negotiated and stipulated agreement or, if the parties cannot agree, each party’s suggested parenting plan.

A parenting plan can include, but is not limited to:

  • childcare guidelines and details
  • child custody determinations
  • legal custody issues
  • physical custody issues
  • child support
  • schedule for custody, visitation, and care of the children
  • transportation arrangements, including pick-ups from school or to after-school activities
  • transfer of custody times and locations
  • holiday and vacation schedules
  • education details
  • religious involvement details, if any
  • a procedure to resolve disputes that arise in the future
  • healthcare decisions and how costs are split
  • communication between the parties

It might seem like overkill, but putting as many details as necessary into the parenting plan helps to prevent future legal battles over minor details. It can even resolve what could otherwise be major and costly legal battles, not to mention the amount of time and energy wasted battling with your former spouse (or soon-to-be former spouse).

Does the Court Require a Parenting Plan?

Under Massachusetts law, a judge may require the parties to submit a parenting plan, but it is not necessary to do so. However, most judges require the submission of a parenting plan as part of the divorce proceedings if children are involved. Parenting plans help the judge understand the best interests of the children and how the proposed plan will protect them.

Mediation as Means of Negotiating Your Parenting Plan

Mediation is often an effective way to negotiate a parenting plan. It involves a neutral third party who comes in and sits with each of the parties separately and together to achieve a mutually agreed-upon agreement. The mediator will speak with both parties to find common ground and help them work out an agreement based on that common ground.

An effective mediator can also help resolve many areas where an agreement is impossible. The mediator can work with you and your attorney to address your concerns and effectively communicate those concerns with the other parent. Much, if not all, of the parenting plan can be agreed upon with healthy negotiation. This can save time, money, and frustration because there is none (or much less) court involvement.

Consult a Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer

Parenting plans are an essential part of any Massachusetts divorce involving children. It is also imperative to your post-divorce life and how you will move on after your divorce is finalized. It will protect the rights and best interests of your children and your own. It is always better to understand the responsibilities of each of the parties and create a process through which disagreements can be handled without having to go to court.

At Wright Family Law Group, we specialize in negotiating parenting plans with skill and diplomacy. When parenting plans cannot be agreed upon, we have the experience to advocate for your parenting plan proposal to the court successfully. We strive to inform and protect you, giving you options during stressful times. Contact us today at 978-851-2291 to schedule your consultation at either our Danvers or Tewksbury offices.

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