Going through a divorce is never easy but it can be particularly difficult for families with young children. In Wisconsin, as in most states, the laws are designed to protect children and to allow them to spend time with both parents. In general, both parents may share legal custody of a child but the child may reside primarily with one parent. The other parent will be allowed visitation with the child according to a schedule that meets everyone’s needs. A parenting plan is a useful tool for setting forth visitation rules and guidelines.
What is a Parenting Plan?
Parenting plans are helpful for all parents, but particularly for those who are having difficulty communicating. Parents must agree to a parenting plan and waive mediation if they agree to a parenting plan. A parenting plan provides details of when visitation will occur, how transfers will happen, and what happens when a change needs to be made to the schedule. The law provides details of what should be included in the plan.
Parenting plans should be as detailed as possible in order to be most effective. They should provide instructions for specifically when visits will occur and the duration of each of the visits. They should also include provisions for how holidays, vacations, and special occasions will be handled. For example, you may choose to alternate holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. You may also specify how visitation will occur during vacations. for instance, one parent may want to spend a full week with the child so they can take a trip together.
These are the types of issues that can be ironed out in a parenting plan. You should also address the daily care and weekly visits with children. In addition, the plan should address how to handle changes if they occur. Parents are encouraged to work on a parenting plan together, typically through their attorneys. However, there are instances in which parents have disagreements and the courts must intervene.
Unfortunately, sometimes parents cannot agree on a parenting plan. Parents may each choose to submit a parenting plan to the court or you may need to participate in mediation to try to come to an agreement. In general, the courts prefer that you and your spouse agree to a parenting plan together. Mediation allows you and your spouse to meet with an objective professional who will facilitate discussions. Your attorneys may also attend mediation. The purpose is to try to come to a solution that is agreeable to both parties. If you cannot reach an agreement, the court will need to make the decision. The result may be that neither parent is completely happy with the order.
The law requires specific things that should be included in a parenting plan. It is advisable to work with a family law attorney with experience handling parenting plans and divorce negotiations. Contact our skilled legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd to learn how we can help with the process.