Mississippi Divorce Parenting Plans
When a family lives under one roof, there is often no need to have a written plan that outlines what everybody must do each day in order to ensure that all of its members’ needs are met. However, when parents separate or divorce, things get more complicated – especially for the children. In many jurisdictions, when a couple divorces, the court requires that they agree on a parenting plan – a written agreement that sets out the schedule and protocols for the living arrangements and care of their children. The parenting plan, which is normally incorporated with the marital settlement agreement, has the force of a court order.
Although Mississippi does not specifically require a parenting plan, the courts prefer that the parents, themselves, create one. If they cannot, Mississippi Code Title 93, Section 93-5-24, gives a judge the right to decide on such issues as child custody, visitation rights, and child support:
“If the parents do not mutually agree on matters concerning child custody, the Mississippi family court shall award custody based on the best interests of the child.”
Importance of Creating a Parenting
A well-designed parenting plan can help lessen disagreements, decrease the likelihood of conflicts, and give the entire family a measure of routine and predictability – especially important because of the emotional upheaval that normally occurs during and after a divorce. Therefore, it is imperative that the separating parents design their plan with as much mutual respect and compassion they can muster, remembering that the well-being of their children is paramount.
Creating a Parenting Plan in Mississippi
When creating a parenting plan in Mississippi, many of the following factors should be considered:
- Parenting principles that outline the parameters of parental behavior in an effort to reduce the impact of the divorce on the children.
- A declaration stating the type of custody – legal and physical – that each parent shall have and how specific, major decisions will be made by either or both parents.
- A visitation schedule that maps out when the children will spend time with the non-custodial parent.
- Visitation exchanges – Details on how and where children will be dropped off or picked up for visitation and how any changes will be handled.
- A visitation schedule for birthdays, holidays, and school vacations.
- A method for dispute resolution in case parents fail to agree in the future.
- Access to medical and school records.
- How to pay for medical, insurance, and education expenses.
- Any issues concerning the relocation of either or both parents and how travel and visitation will be addressed should that occur.
- How to handle any new romantic relationships.
- Any other relevant information the parents wish to include, such as: agreed-upon methods of discipline; behavior rules such as internet use, TV watching, etc.; participation in extra-curricular activities and religious organizations; special dietary standards; etc.
The development of a parenting plan is a complex process, often involving numerous details, and thus, resulting in a lengthy document. Skilled family law attorneys are aware of the numerous details that need to be in parenting plans, while parents may not think of these details during the midst of their separation and divorce.
Considerations for Developing a Plan
However, there is no single type of parenting plan that applies to all families. A good parenting plan is specific enough to be useful, but general enough to be flexible. It should take into consideration the ages of the children, understanding that younger children generally need shorter but more frequent contact with both parents and may not adjust well to new surroundings and routines, while plans for older children can be more flexible as far as scheduling, but will generally require more rules and expectations.
Consult an Experienced Divorce Attorney to Help Create a Fair and Effective Parenting Plan: Contact Our Office to Schedule a Consultation
If you are involved in a divorce and need to create a parenting plan, a family law attorney can help. At Maley & Nicholas, we have the experience and expertise to aid you in designing a plan that is equitable and workable, and most important, can help you and your family move on from the difficulties and emotional disorder of your present situation. Call us to schedule an attorney consultation.