Parenting time is one of the most important issues in a divorce or separation. Having a clear schedule specifying the obligations of both parents is crucial in facilitating healthy parent-child relationships and nurturing the child's growth and development.
How a parenting plan is developed depends on the family's unique circumstances. It may be established based on an agreement between both parents, after taking various considerations into account. However, if the parents are unable to settle on an arrangement, the court will decide how often the child spends with each parent based on the child's best interest.
What Is a Parenting Time Schedule?
A parenting schedule lays out the amount of time a child (or children) will be with each parent after a separation. This schedule must be developed regardless of whether sole residential (legal custody) or shared parenting (joint custody) is awarded.
Parenting time will not necessarily be equal – meaning that there will not be a 50/50 split in the frequency of parent-child contact. However, it must be fair and ensure that each parent has quality time with their child (or children).
How Is a Parenting Time Schedule Established?
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, there are two ways a parenting plan may be set. Either the parents agree on visitation or the court issues an order.
Generally, courts encourage parents to set their own schedules. Having a parent-decided schedule ensures that the family's unique needs are taken into account on a personal level. It can also facilitate future cooperation between parents. Even if the parents agree to a specific arrangement, they must obtain the court's approval to have it finalized.
In situations where parents cannot agree, the court will decide. The judge will evaluate the situation and order a schedule in the child's best interest. Courts in each Ohio county have their own standard order of parenting time, which the judge will go off but may modify on a case-by-case basis.
What Factors Must Be Considered When Developing a Parenting Time Schedule?
Various factors must be considered when establishing a parenting time schedule. Because each family is unique, these will not be the same for every situation. In some cases (when parents are working together on parenting time), it may be helpful to use the court's standard schedule as a starting point and make changes as necessary.
Generally, some things that may be considered include, but are not limited to:
- Child's age
- Child's relationship each parent
- Distance between parents' homes
- Flexibility of parent's and child's schedules
- Holidays and vacations
- Availability of transportation
- Parent's history of domestic violence or substance abuse
Based on the circumstances and the needs of the child, there are various ways a parenting schedule may be developed. For instance, it may provide a child access to the non-residential parent 3 to 5 times a week, or it may ensure that the child will not go more than two days without seeing each parent. Some schedules may allow for frequent but short visits, while others have infrequent but longer visits.
How Can an Attorney Help with Parenting Plans in Ohio?
Deciding on visitation can be complex and emotional. Each parent wants to ensure that they have a strong relationship with their child, making it challenging to agree on an arrangement. An attorney can facilitate constructive discussions between parents and ensure that all relevant factors are considered when developing a plan. They can also help create a well-thought-out document that clearly establishes visitation.L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC is ready to provide the compassionate and dedicated legal assistance you need for your case in Dayton. Schedule a free consultation by contacting us at (937) 685-7006 today.