When parents divorce, essential issues that must be taken care of include child custody and co-parenting responsibilities. Irrespective of who is awarded custody of the minor child or children Georgia law requires a parenting plan that details co-parenting schedules.
Couples who have chosen the route of collaborative divorce will, with the help of a good family law firm, usually draw up their own co-parenting agreement, which is then approved by a court of law. But it is not necessarily cast in stone, particularly when it comes to holiday periods like the forthcoming summer break.
Co-parenting is intended to benefit the children, and so it is vital for divorced parents to maintain communication, and to cooperate with each other, and compromise when necessary. For instance, it is quite possible that one parent or the other is planning to vacation during the summer break and this might mean adjusting the co-parenting schedule. Perhaps the father is going away for the summer break and would like the child to go with him, even though he would ordinarily only have the weekend with his child. Or he may not be able to take the child with him and so won’t be able to fulfill his function during this time.
Co-Parenting Schedules and Required Plans
The precursor to any co-parenting schedule is the custody agreement.
Sole custody is when one parent is given the right (and responsibility) to make all the major decisions about the child who by virtue of sole custody live with him or her. Parenting time (established by court-approved visitation rights) is then awarded to the non-custodial parents in a legally endorsed parenting plan.
Joint custody takes several forms:
- Joint legal custody where both parents make decisions that involve the child. These include issues relating to religion, health care, education, and sport and recreation, as well as decisions if there is any kind of emergency. While the parents have equal responsibility, sometimes the judge will give one parent the authority to make specific decisions and then share the decision-making process for others.
- Joint physical custody involves sharing the time children spend with them. This might, for instance be on a weekly basis or monthly basis, depending on practicalities.
- Joint custody may be limited to either joint physical or legal custody, or it might combine the two.
The law is quite specific when it comes to parenting plans. First and foremost there must be a parenting time schedule that indicates where the child should be 24/7, 365 days in a year. Other specifications include:
- What transport arrangments will be made when the child moved between parents.
- Who makes decisions relating to the child.
- How disputes will be resolved if and when they arise.
- Any limitations that prevent a parent from making contact with the child when the other parent is caring for the child.
- Any limitation on either parent’s right in terms of accessing information about the child relating to health, education, religion, and so on.
- Details of any supervised parenting time required.
Resolving Issues Relating to Co-Parenting Schedules for the Summer Break
During the summer break many parents will simply follow the parenting plan approved by the court. But if there are issues that arise because of vacations, birthdays, or anything else, the ideal is for the two parents to discuss these and make a mutual decision that will be in the best interests of the child.
If the parents can’t agree, they should follow the rules laid down in the co-parenting schedule that cover resolution of disputes. If that doesn’t work, the best approach would likely be to consult a mediation attorney who can help resolve issues.
Ultimately it is vital for all parties to act in the very best interests of the children.
The empathetic family law attorneys at the Waggoner Hastings Family & Collaborative Law firm are specialists in mediation and they can help you amend co-parenting schedules for the summer break, if this is what you need. Contact us today to discuss your needs.