If you are currently contemplating or going through the divorce process, you probably already know that child custody and visitation will be key issues to address. Couples can work out these matters through an agreed parenting plan, which is often the preferred option rather than going to court to have the judge decide. By reaching a compromise that complies with Maryland’s standard on the child’s best interests, you will not have to litigate custody and visitation.
However, if you have never tried to create a Maryland parenting plan before, you may not know where to begin with the process. It is wise to count on a Maryland divorce attorney for assistance with drafting, negotiations, and entering the proper orders, but you should understand what to include when working out your arrangement for custody and visitation.
Legal and Physical Custody
Parents will usually share in legal custody of the child, which involves making the important decisions regarding how to raise the child. In joint legal custody, you both would have input in such areas as education, extracurricular activities, religion, travel, and others. Your parenting plan should also go over details regarding physical custody, which can also be shared equally. In most cases, one parent will be considered the residential parent for convenience purposes.
The non-residential parent will have visitation rights, and you can be quite flexible in outlining the regular schedule. Many parents opt for alternate weekends, plus some days during the week.
Holiday, Vacations, and School Breaks
You should address special occasion visitation in your parenting plan, as well. Some parents work out an arrangement to alternate on major holidays and the child’s birthday, then switch the following year. It also makes sense for each parent to have visitation rights on his or her own birthday, as well as respectively for Mother’s and Father’s Days.
Medical Care and Records
Your parenting plan should indicate that each parent will have access to the child’s medical records and health-related matters. The child should never undergo non-routine treatment or a non-emergency procedure without the consent of both parents.
Disagreements can – and most likely WILL – occur, so make sure to add provisions on how you will resolve them. You might include a strategy for getting your attorneys involved to smooth over disputes, which is a better option than going to court every time you disagree on some issue affecting the child.
Get Legal Guidance from a Baltimore County, MD Divorce Lawyer
These tips on what to include in a Maryland parenting plan should get you off to a good start, but you should still trust an attorney for assistance with the process. Even if you can agree, you must adhere to the child’s best interests factors, negotiate the details, and handle the court process for entering an appropriate order. A divorce lawyer can take care of these essential tasks and will protect your interests as a parent. To learn how I can help, please contact attorney William F. Mulroney to set up a consultation today.