Red Bank Parenting Plans

If you have minor children and are getting a divorce, you and your spouse need to develop a parenting plan. The parenting plan determines your custody and visitation arrangements, child support, and many other details that help parents and children adjust to living in separate households.

A judge will scrutinize your parenting plan, so it is important to get it right. Working with an experienced custody attorney to develop Red Bank parenting plans could help you and your spouse address all the important issues. If the judge does not approve of your parenting plan or if you and your spouse cannot agree to one, a judge will impose a plan on your family.

Parenting plans can be a lot of work, but they offer you and your spouse the opportunity to work together to create an arrangement that serves the best interests of your children. A local family lawyer could explain the requirements, oversee negotiations between you and your spouse, and present the final plan to the judge for approval.

Basics of Parenting Plans

Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-404 describes the basic requirements for parenting plans in Red Bank. They are formal agreements between parents about where the children will live most of the time, when they will spend time with their non-residential parent, and how parents will share decision-making. The state publishes a parenting plan template that it encourages parents to use to document their agreement.

In addition to custody and visitation issues, parenting plans detail financial arrangements, including provisions for child support. A formula determines the minimum child support payment acceptable in a specific case, though, parents could opt to increase child support above the minimum payment if they wish. They must show good cause if they agree to less than the minimum payment the formula directs.

Judges strongly prefer parents to devise these plans without judicial intervention, as parents often know what is best for their children and what is workable for their family.

Negotiating a Parenting Plan

Ideally, parents are on the same page regarding where the child will live most of the time. The disruption of divorce is hard on children, so parents might allow the children to continue to live in the home where they have been living with the parent who has been their primary caretaker. The other parent could have ample time with the children on weekends, school holidays, and during the summer. If parents live near each other, the children may spend time during the week with their non-residential parent. However, these arrangements will not work for every family, and parents have the discretion to create a plan that works for them.

Parenting time schedules depend on each parent’s work schedule and other obligations, so it is most practical for parents to develop them together. Parents with difficulty communicating productively could work with a mediator on their parenting plan. Sometimes, a capable Red Bank attorney could negotiate a parenting plan with the other spouse’s attorney.

If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the law requires each parent to submit a proposed plan to the judge at least 45 days before the divorce trial. The judge will hear evidence and decide on a plan. The judge could accept one of the parent’s plans or develop a different plan they believe better serves the children’s interests.

Judges Apply the Best Interests Standard to Parenting Plans

The law presumes that children benefit by having meaningful relationships with both parents. Red Bank courts favor parenting plans that allow the children to spend substantial time with each parent, although one parent will be the “residential parent”—the parent the children live with most of the time.

Regardless of the specifics of the custody, visitation, and child support arrangements the parents make or propose, a judge must evaluate them according to the children’s best interest standard. That standard requires the judge to assess numerous factors relevant to the situation, including:

  • The children’s needs
  • The parents’ capabilities as caregivers
  • The desire to provide the children consistency and structure
  • Any history of parental abuse or neglect

Judges must consider the wishes of children 12 years old and older and may consider younger children’s wishes in a particular case.

The judge must independently analyze the parenting plan even if the parents agreed to it. Although it is unusual, a judge could reject a plan the parents agreed to if the judge feels it does not serve the children’s best interests.

Develop Parenting Plans with the Help of a Red Bank Attorney

You, your spouse, and your children will benefit if you can develop a Red Bank parenting plan yourselves. A seasoned lawyer could negotiate with their counterpart or advise a spouse through the mediation process. If negotiations are unsuccessful, the legal professional could help a spouse produce a compelling plan to submit to the judge and convince the judge the plan serves the children’s best interests.

Your parenting plan will guide your family life for years to come. Work with your spouse and a committed attorney to make it the best it can be. Call today to get started.

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