When parents divorce or separate, many decisions must be made about the continued care of their children. Their parental responsibilities are unchanged, but important issues, like child support and child custody, must be determined. This can be incredibly stressful for parents and children, but it can be much easier with a Topeka child custody attorney by your side.
Part of a child custody case is the creation of a parenting plan, and it’s often beneficial for parents to work together on these plans. You know your family and can more effectively tailor a parenting plan to the unique needs of your child and the rest of your family.
Important Information to Include in a Parenting Plan
Ideally, a parenting plan is created through collaboration and negotiation between parents. The most important thing to remember when creating a parenting plan is that the provisions must be in your child’s interests. Under state law, a plan must include the following information at a minimum:
- Determining legal custody, including whether one or both parents have legal custody. When both parents have legal custody, a parenting plan should outline how they will make important decisions regarding the child’s healthcare, education and schooling, religion, and other important decisions.
- A schedule for physical custody, which is the time that a child spends with each parent. When parents have joint physical custody, their parenting time schedule should be as close to 50-50 as possible, although practical concerns may impact this.
- Methods for how parents will resolve disputes through compromise, without needing to resolve them through the court.
- If either parent is an active service member, the parenting plan should outline how custody and parenting time will be altered when they are deployed or mobilized.
These are not the only provisions that can be in a parenting plan; they are simply the minimum requirements. A parenting plan may also include the following:
- A detailed and clearly outlined schedule for parenting time, including a schedule for holidays and vacations
- Provisions for when a modification can be made to the parenting plan
- Determining how parents will share information about a child, such as school and medical information
- A provision to determine how to handle the relocation of a parent
- Listing the financial responsibility of each parent
- Determining transportation for a child
A parenting plan should be detailed enough to make the transition as smooth as possible for parents and children. Once a parenting plan is created, parents must submit the agreement to the family court for approval.
How the Court Decides a Child’s Interests
The court will look at the child’s interests when approving, modifying, or denying a parenting plan. Usually, the court will approve an agreement made by the parents. If parents cannot work together to create a plan, the court will also review the child’s interests when creating a parenting plan.
To determine a child’s interests, a Kansas court will review the following factors:
- The wishes of the child and both parents
- The child’s relationship with each parent, their siblings, and other significant family members and persons
- The child’s connection with their current home, school, and surrounding community
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to encourage their child’s relationship with the other parent
- Any evidence of spousal abuse, child abuse, or a conviction for other crimes
- Whether either parent is living with an individual who has been convicted of a crime
When creating a parenting plan for your child, an attorney can help review it and improve the likelihood of the court approving the plan. Your attorney can also mediate for parents as they create the plan.
Q: Do You Have to Pay Child Support If You Have 50-50 Custody in Kansas?
A: Both parents are expected to financially support their children, and child support exists to ensure that both parents do so. When parents have equal custody, it is likely that they are both paying for a near-equal amount of expenses. In some cases, this means no child support is necessary.
However, depending on the income of each parent and the expenses that a child needs, one parent may still need to pay the other support payments. Often, one parent must pay certain expenses, such as healthcare or childcare, and support payments can split that cost equally between parents.
Q: Can You Modify a Parenting Plan Without Going to Court in Kansas?
A: Usually, no. If parents can agree on a change to a parenting plan, they can draft that change and submit it to the court for approval. If the change is to visitation, the court is more likely to approve.
If the change is to custody, there are higher requirements. The change must be in the child’s interest for the court to approve it. Although there is no litigation in court, like there would be if parents disagree about the change, the modification must still go through the court.
Q: Is It Hard to Get Sole Custody in Kansas?
A: Kansas courts typically prefer joint legal custody, with either joint physical custody or sole physical custody and generous visitation rights. For a parent to have sole legal and physical custody, they must prove to the court that the other parent is somehow unfit.
An unfit parent is unable to care for a child’s basic needs, provides an unsafe living environment, or can otherwise not care for a child. Sole custody may also be awarded if another parent is incarcerated and unable to care for their child.
Q: What Should Be Included in a Parallel Parenting Plan?
A: Parallel parenting is needed when parents want to share custody but do not want to co-parent, often due to a high-conflict relationship. Parallel parenting plans must be highly detailed and specific so that parents have to communicate as little as possible.
One important inclusion in the plan is an outline of the pick-up and drop-off location and time, as well as how parents should handle delays or cancellations. There should be a clear schedule of when children are picked up and which parent is responsible for transportation.
Contact Stange Law Firm
Even a straightforward child custody case can benefit from the assistance and support of a qualified attorney. With their help, the process can go more smoothly, and an experienced attorney has significant knowledge of creative solutions for parenting plans to draw from. An attorney can advocate for your interests in a more complicated or contentious custody case. At Stange Law Firm, we have experience in many types of custody cases. Contact us today.