A parenting plan is an important document that determines a separating or divorcing couple’s continued care of their child or children. Both parents still have legal and financial responsibilities to care for their children despite being separated. Negotiating a parenting plan can be confusing and frustrating, even when you want to work with your co-parent in your child’s interests. It can be easier to work with a Kansas City child custody attorney to mediate these plans.
Required Information in a Kansas City Parenting Plan
A parenting plan can be created in court, but Kansas courts prefer parents to work together on this plan. It is also in your interests to negotiate with your co-parent about the specifics of child custody and a parenting plan. It gives you more control over the outcome, and you and your co-parent understand your family’s needs and your schedules better.
When you and your co-parent are creating a parenting plan, either through mediation or collaborative methods, always keep your child’s interests as the priority. By state law, the following information must be addressed in the parenting plan:
- Legal Custody: Determine who has legal custody and whether one parent retains custody or both parents have legal custody. Joint custody is much more common and preferred by the court. In joint legal custody plans, the parenting plan should also address the decisions parents are making. The plan can list current choices for religion, schooling, healthcare, and other decisions.
The plan could also list how parents will reach these decisions when they need to get the consent of the other parent to make an important decision and how to handle disagreements.
- Physical Custody: The plan should include a determination of physical custody and a schedule for when and how long a child spends time with each parent. If parents have joint physical custody, this schedule should try to be as close to a 50-50 split as possible.
- Dispute Resolution: There should be methods for dispute resolution between parents outside of court.
- Service Member Provisions: When either parent is a currently active service member, a parenting plan must address custody decisions and where children will live when that parent is deployed.
Other Important Information to Include in a Plan
Although that information is required in a parenting plan, that is not all that should be included in the plan. When you and your co-parent are creating the plan, you should review your unique circumstances and include relevant information for your family’s needs. Property division and financial concerns are not to be included in the plan. Information you may want to discuss includes:
- Specific situations that allow for modification of the parenting plan
- Determine how parents share information, including report cards and school information, as well as important healthcare information
- An outlined schedule for the time children spend with parents, especially determining holidays and vacation time
- Outline how parents can both remain involved in their child’s school and after-school activities, sports, and other interests
- Plan for how to manage the relocation of one or both parents
- Determining how each parent will be financially responsible for the child and how child support payments should be made
- Outline transportation for your child and each parent’s responsibilities for transportation
The more detailed a parenting plan is, the less room for confusion or differing interpretations. A parenting plan should make the transition to separation more smooth and less stressful for both parents and their children. An attorney can help craft a parenting plan that is in a child’s interests, legally enforceable, and likely to be approved by the court. An attorney is also useful in navigating negotiations with minimal conflict.
Q: Is Kansas a 50-50 Custody State?
A: Kansas family courts tend to prefer some form of 50-50 custody, although this is a legal preference and not set in statute. The court prefers joint legal custody, meaning both parents have a say over important decisions in their child’s life, such as education, religious upbringing, and healthcare.
Joint legal custody may be assigned with joint physical custody or sole legal custody with the other parent having significant visitation rights. 50-50 joint physical custody can sometimes be destabilizing for a child, and this is one factor the court takes into account when deciding custody.
Q: Can You Modify a Parenting Plan Without Going to Court in Kansas?
A: In most cases, parents cannot fully modify a parenting plan without the court’s approval. When parents can agree on a change, they can present this modification to the judge. The judge will determine if the change is fair for children and parents when deciding whether to approve it. Changes to visitation, if they do not impact a child significantly, are likely to be approved. There are more difficult requirements to change custody, as the change has to be in the child’s interests.
If parents do not agree on changes, the parent who wishes to modify must petition the court. In this case, custody modifications must meet an even higher standard. The current plan must not be in a child’s interests and harmful to their well-being for the court to approve the change.
Q: What Are the Grounds for Sole Custody in Kansas?
A: The family courts do not prefer sole custody, as they believe it is in the child’s interests to spend meaningful and significant time with each parent. However, if a parent is considered to be the legal definition of an unfit parent, the court may consider it in the child’s interests to award sole legal and physical custody to the other parent. An unfit parent in Kansas is a parent who cannot care for a child’s basic needs and welfare or otherwise has an unsafe or unstable home environment for a child.
Q: What Should Be Included in a Parallel Parenting Plan?
A: A parallel parenting plan enables two parents to share custody when they have a contentious relationship or are unwilling to co-parent for other reasons. Because the goal is to limit contact and communication between parties, a parenting plan should be very detailed and clear about important aspects like pick-up and drop-offs for their children, when and where these occur, and what to do in case of emergency or delays.
Work With Experienced Child Custody and Mediation Attorneys
It is better for many families to reach an agreement outside of court for their parenting plan. Contact the qualified attorneys at Stange Law Firm to see how we can help you and your co-parent mediate or negotiate a parenting plan.