Parenting Schedule/ Parenting Plan (sometimes referred to as custody/visitation)

Divorce is never easy, especially when children are involved. In New Hampshire, divorcing couples with children are required to submit a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a document that outlines the specific issues and terms regarding children in the divorce. The parenting plan should address items such as legal custody, physical custody, visitation schedules, relocation guidelines, and support. The document addresses the specifics regarding which parent will be responsible for what and who is able to make decisions for the child. If you are going through a divorce it is essential to get input and assistance on the parenting plan from an experienced New Hampshire family law attorney. Your lawyer will review all the information to help you create a comprehensive parenting plan that will work properly.

Best Interest of the Child

Any parenting plan must be made in accordance with the best interest of the children. Since children are unable to represent their rights, the laws take special care to ensure that their rights are protected. Some parents try to get full custody of their children over the objection of the other parent. The courts will review information as it relates to the case and will always act in what is in the best interest of the child. Some of the things that are considered include:

  • Child’s age
  • Special needs of the child
  • Emotional stability of the child
  • Daily schedule of the child
  • Ability of each parent to provide care
  • Flexibility of parent’s work schedule
  • Relationship of child and siblings
  • Physical location of each parent
  • Care giving skills of each parent
  • How well the parents are able to communicate with each other

When both spouses appear to be responsible parents the court will review things such as location, working hours, and other factors to assist in deciding on a parenting plan that works for the child.

Guardian Ad Litem

The court must always do what is best for the child. To this end, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem. This is a professional assigned to ensure that the rights of the child are protected and that anything done in court is done with the best interest of the child in mind. The guardian ad litem is only a guardian for the duration of the court case and only for the case itself. If children are older, typically over the age of 12, the judge may ask for the child’s opinion and desires about the parenting plan. For example, a child may have a strong desire to live primarily with one parent over the other. These desires may be taken into consideration.

Modification

Once a parenting plan is agreed upon it becomes part of the final court order. The only way to change a parenting plan is through modification. Even if both parents agree to the changes, they aren’t legal or official until the parenting plan is modified in court. The parent requesting the changes must file for a hearing. You’ll need legal representation to handle this most efficiently. The court will review your request and both parents must be present at the hearing for input. Your New Hampshire family law attorney will be able to answer any questions about modification of the parenting plan and assist you throughout the process.