A Texas divorce involving minor children must include a parenting plan. Under Texas law, specific issues must be addressed in the parenting plan. However, the most effective parenting plans cover issues beyond the mandated basics. Lead attorney Vonda Covington of Covington Law Firm, PLLC, can help you protect your child’s best interests by developing a comprehensive parenting plan. Whether your divorce is contentious and will be headed to court or you are pursuing a collaborative divorce, she can help you create an effective parenting plan. We will discuss how creating a comprehensive parenting plan can help you take control of your family’s future.
- A Parenting Plan is Required in Texas
In 1995, the Texas legislature added section 153.007, which requires a parenting plan for all child custody cases. If parents negotiate the parenting plan outside of court, the proposed parenting plan can be presented to the judge for approval. If the judge decides the plan is in the child’s best interest, they can issue a court order to enforce the plan.
- A Parenting Plan Will Help You Address Important Issues
Parenting plans are required to address the following issues:
- Naming the child’s managing conservator(s) and/or possessory conservator (noncustodial parent with the right to visitation)
- Dividing the physical care, education, and support of the child
- Dividing the decision-making rights and responsibilities
- Determining child support amounts
- Creating a schedule of when the child will be physically present with each parent
- Naming which parent has the authority to decide the child’s primary residence
- Designing an area within which the child will live
- Explaining how the child’s medical and dental costs will be covered
- A Comprehensive Parenting Plan Will Prevent Disruption to a Child’s Routine
Divorce can significantly impact a child, even when parents work together collaboratively. Taking time to carefully create a parenting plan with the child’s best interests in mind can help the child’s life remain as stable as possible. The goal of the provisions in the parenting plan should be to ensure that the child’s routine, education, and friendship are disrupted as little as possible.
- Parenting Plans With Some Flexibility Can Be Helpful
It is important that parenting plans are comprehensive. The more issues addressed in the parenting plan, the better. Adding additional elements to the standard parenting plan requirements can help parents avoid disputes down the road. However, there will always be times with the specifics of the parenting plan will be violated. For example, a parent could become ill and not pick the child up at the scheduled time. In other cases, care trouble could prevent the parent from meeting his or her obligations. For these reasons, the parenting plan should include some flexibility.
- A Parenting Plan Can Help You Resolve Disputes
A good parenting plan can help you and your spouse agree on how to resolve disputes in the future. Disputes can and do arise even when parents have an effective parenting plan. When creating a parenting plan, you should carefully consider how you would like to resolve future disagreements with your co-parent. Returning to court can be costly, stressful, and time-consuming. For this reason, you may want to include an alternative dispute resolution process that will be used to attempt to resolve issues before going to court.
- An Effective Parenting Plan Creates Consistency
When a child’s parents divorce, the uncertainty of what will happen in the future can cause anxiety and stress. An effective parenting plan should discuss various scenarios and the best way to handle those scenarios for the kids’ benefit. When a child knows what they can expect at different times of the year, they can be spared insecurity and anxiety. By addressing the following scenarios, a child will often feel more stable and less anxious:
- Medical visits
- School terms
- Medical visits
- Access to extended families
- Sports schedules
- Other special care needs
- Involvement With Both Parents is Healthy for Children
Whatever your child’s age, it is essential for the child to have time to gain emotional guidance. As a parent, it is your right to bond with your child and be available for them to talk about things that are bothering them. A well-formulated parenting plan allows you to be available for your children to help them with their emotional health. When all parties understand their expectations under the parenting plan, it helps parents navigate the process with composure and maturity. A comprehensive parenting plan is often helpful for the growth and development of the child.
- Parenting Plans Promote Cooperation
A parenting plan can be a springboard for greater discussion and collaboration between parents. An agreement on the parenting plan usually means parents are more likely to cooperate as their child grows. Children are more likely to thrive when parents work together and resolve conflicts effectively. When negotiating a parenting plan, parents must work together to address some of the most highly-contentious issues.
- Less Communication Can Be a Good Thing
Divorce can be extremely challenging, even when both parents agree to work together. Creating a parenting plan can help both parents have some space while limiting communication regularly. Instead of discussing every issue as it comes up, parents know they have already addressed the issue through the parenting plan. Parents do not need to negotiate other arrangements if the plan is followed. For high-conflict divorces, less communication can be a helpful way to move toward the future more smoothly.
- A Parenting Plan Can Protect You and Your Child
Attorney Vonda Covington has helped many Texas parents create comprehensive parenting plans. Creating a parenting plan can be difficult as it involves discussing some of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Having an experienced legal professional help you create a parenting plan is an excellent way to protect yourself and your child. Ms. Covington can help you identify potential red flags and negotiate a better option. Contact Covington Law Firm, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more.