When your family involves children, some of the most challenging and time-sensitive decisions to make involve child custody and parenting access schedules.
Parenting plans in Connecticut, sometimes referred to as parental responsibility plans by Connecticut family courts, are written documents that set forth each parent’s responsibilities and obligations in connection with the children. Parenting plans provide the roadmap for how parents will navigate life together when they are no longer partners. Parenting plans can address the following:
- Legal custody – each parent’s authority to make major decisions about a child, including decisions related to healthcare, education, and religion;
- Physical custody – where the child will live and when and how the child will see each parent;
- Particular provisions for children with specific medical, developmental, or educational needs;
- Dispute resolution processes, such as specifying when parents are obligated to notify each other of significant issues related to the child and the timing of the response to such a notification; whether third parties (e.g., parenting coordinator, mediator) will be involved; and when there should be court involvement in the event of a disagreement;
- Provisions regarding communication between parents and with children, travel with children, relocation with children, and children’s school districts;
- Therapy for parents or children; and
- If needed in a case, substance abuse related testing (alcohol and drug use), and what steps should be taken if alcohol or drug use is detected.
Parenting plans should be developed to fit each family’s particular goals, needs, and circumstances. The team approach of our family law group at Ruel Ruel Burns Feldman & Britt, LLC, allows clients to have ample access to members of their legal team to address daily or emergent parenting plan issues and to develop parenting plans that are in the best interest of their children.
How are parenting plans in Connecticut created?
For families with children, parents have the ability to discuss and agree upon child custody and parenting plans in Connecticut. These discussions can be accomplished through negotiation in a litigated setting or through the collaborative divorce or mediation process. When parents work together to develop their parenting plan, they create a plan that will better suit their lifestyle and the child’s needs and will set expectations that are clear and easy to follow. The goal is to have a plan that minimizes the opportunity for conflict between the parents as they go forward with their separate lives.
There may be interim temporary or pendente lite parenting plans developed by parents or by the Connecticut family court before a final judgment is entered in a matter. These interim parenting plans can assist with families as they transition into separate living spaces to determine realistic schedules. If the parents do not agree on a final parenting responsibility plan, interim parenting plans can also serve as a way to maintain appropriate access with children while the parents await results from a Family Services evaluation, guardian ad litem recommendations, or a private psychological evaluation.
Pendente lite or temporary parenting plans may be modified by agreement of the parties or further order of the Connecticut family court if the existing parenting plan is no longer in the best interests of the children.
When parents are unable to agree upon a parenting plan in Connecticut, in part or in whole, the Connecticut family court becomes involved to hear evidence and make orders based upon the best interests of the children during the interim of the family matter or as part of the final judgment. The court will take into consideration multiple factors when deciding on a parenting plan, including the temperament and developmental needs of the child, the capacity of the parents to meet the child’s needs, and the willingness of the parents to facilitate and encourage the continuing parent-child relationship as is appropriate.
How is a parenting plan in Connecticut changed or modified after the parenting plan is made an order?
After a final parenting plan has been ordered by the court, there may be times when the child custody arrangement or parenting schedule has to change to continue to meet the children’s best interests. Parents always have the opportunity to agree upon those changes to their parenting plan and have a revised plan drafted and submitted to the Connecticut family court for approval and adoption as orders of the court. When an agreement cannot be reached through negotiation or an alternative dispute resolution process, a parent may turn to the family court to make decisions about the proposed changes.
At Ruel Ruel Burns Feldman & Britt, LLC, our team of Connecticut family law attorneys have helped families across our state navigate custodial issues and develop parenting plans that meet our clients and their families and children’s specific needs through litigated, collaborative, and mediated processes.
Contact our experienced family law attorneys at Ruel Ruel Burns Feldman & Britt, LLC, at 860-206-9096 or through our online contact form to schedule a consultation.