Five Things to Include in a Lakewood, CO Parenting Plan

Under Colorado law, divorcing parents are required to submit a written parenting plan regarding the key issues involved with raising their minor children. Though the terms custody and visitation have been replaced by “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” and “Parenting Time,” many of the same traditional concepts apply. Therefore, your parenting plan must include provisions on decision-making regarding important aspects of the child’s life, as well as the time each parent spends with him or her.

However, the standard form used in Jefferson County doesn’t cover every possible parenting plan issue that may come up. Parents often overlook certain key issues, and a Lakewood, CO child custody lawyer can help you identify what they are for your situation. However, you may want to consider addressing:

Computer Time

Laptops, tablets, phones, and other devices are useful tools for education and entertainment. However, too much computer time can be detrimental to the child’s development ”“ not to mention the fact that it interferes with the whole point of parenting time: Enhancing the parent-child relationship. In your parenting plan, set reasonable parameters on computer use for certain purposes.

Holidays and School Breaks

Many parents know to include provisions on splitting time over the week, but don’t forget to address holidays and time off school. Even if you don’t designate exact dates in your parenting plan, consider a formula that will establish which parent gets to spend time with the child and when.

Right of First Refusal

You may find yourself in a situation where one parent is scheduled for parenting time but has an unforeseeable conflict. In such a situation, it would be necessary to arrange childcare. In your parenting plan, you may want to include a provision that allows for right of first refusal: If you cannot handle child care during your own parenting time, you should give the other parent the opportunity rather than a third party.

Non-Child Support Spending

You may agree to general child support rules in your parenting plan, but you may also want to address certain expenditures that fall outside these provisions. One solution is to keep receipts or notes, then split the amount equally between both parents. Of course, you can also set a maximum per month for non-child support spending.

Stealing Parenting Time

Bitterness and resentment can linger long after your divorce is finalized, and one parent may resort to misconduct out of spite. That person may purposefully schedule certain events or appointments during the other parent’s parenting time, essentially stealing time away. You can include provisions to address this tactic, such as by requiring both parents to consent in writing when signing the child up for activities. If bitterness prevents you from agreement on these issues, you could spend a lot of time in court.

An Experienced Fort Collins, CO Attorney Can Help with Parenting Plans

For more information on how to create a parenting plan that works for your circumstances, please contact Divorce Matters. Our knowledgeable lawyers can assist with negotiations, drafting the essential documents, and enforcing the provisions as necessary to protect your interests.

Balance Is Important: Why Overnights Are So Important For Young Children

When the courts come up with child custody arrangements, they determine the plan based on what is in the best interest of the children. Often, the courts will try to make sure that each parent has adequate overnight visits with the children. It may seem like a no-brainer that children should be able to spend time with both parents, but what arrangement is best? A new study suggests that splitting time as evenly as possible between parents is the best way for children to build and maintain both relationships.

The study, published February 2 in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law, suggested that adult children who went on the have the best relationships with their parents were those who spent equal time between their parents’ homes as young children.

Previous research on couples showed that a child who spends too much time with the father early in life would suffer damaged bonds with the mother. The new study suggested otherwise: not only did overnight parenting with the father cause no harm to the mother-child relationship, commonly thought of as the most important relationship for young children, it actually appeared to strengthen both relationships.

Overnight Time with Both Parents Is the Key to Better Future Relationships

The study looked at 100 college students whose parents separated before the students turned three years old. The students rated their relationships with their parents and the findings showed that the time spent with the child at age two was highly important. If a child spent less time at one parent’s house, the parents were typically unable to compensate later with more overnight time. As a result, the child’s future relationship with that parent would suffer. The study concluded that an even, or close to even, split provided benefits for all three parties, not just the custodial parent and the child.

Why? The researchers have a theory. For fathers, being alone with the child helped them to learn how to parent the child from the beginning. This led to a better foundation for their future relationship. For mothers, letting the child spend time away gave them a break from the stresses of being a single mother, which made mothers more prepared to raise the children when they had custody.

Having issues with a parenting time arrangement for your children? Our Denver family law firm is well-equipped to handle all matters of child custody, including enforcement and modification.