When it comes to parenting plans, some clients prefer a plan that spells out where the child will be during every minute of every day. Some of these families go on to live that plan down to the minute. Other families hope for a more flexible plan. They might want the plan to be drafted so that the child resides with the father two days per week based on his preference, or the child’s preference. Maybe they want the flexibility to choose who takes the child to soccer practice, regardless of where the child is residing at the time. Flexibility can be great. If parents are willing to change plans and accommodate one another’s schedule, and that of the child, the child often benefits. For example, if both parents work together and are flexible, it often means the child can spend the most time possible with one of their parents, and less time at daycare or other third-party care.
That said, issues can arise if parents draft a specific and/or strict parenting plan, and then ignore the provisions laid out therein. Parents should be aware that continually working outside the parenting plan can end up being grounds for a modification of the parenting plan. This can also have impacts on child support. For example, if under the parenting plan the child is supposed to be residing with the father during the week and the mother every-other-weekend, but the parents later agree that the child should remain with the mother three days during the week plus every-other-weekend, the mother may have grounds to modify the parenting plan. If the parenting plan is modified, it may mean that the child support obligations also shift.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work with your child’s other parent, and be flexible when things come up. It does mean, that if you are not following the parenting plan in a substantial way, it might be a good idea to discuss with a family law attorney your parenting plan, and your current parenting circumstances. Flexibility is good, but protecting your time with your child is most important.
Please let us know if you would like to discuss variations from your parenting plan or any other family law issue.