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Do I Need to File a Parenting Plan with the Court?

When it comes to divorce and child custody, some divorced parents can be civil enough to decide and agree on matters on their own without the need for court intervention. They can simply engage a professional or a child custody lawyer who can help them craft their parenting plan and allocate parental rights and responsibilities.

As long as both parents cooperate, then there’s no problem, right? Although a parenting plan does not require a court order to take effect, there is an issue with not filing it with the family court. So it’s highly recommended that parents go to court to file their parenting plan, discuss child custody matters, and get an order to put everything into effect. 

Why is it Important to File a Parenting Plan with the Court? 

Divorce is a tricky situation. There are a lot of reasons that may have led to the couples ending their marriage, and realistically speaking, not a lot of couples get divorced on good terms. Even if they can remain civil for the sake of their children, there’s no guarantee that their relationship will not turn sour or disagreements will not get the better of them in the future. 

If a divorced couple creates a parenting plan but does not file it in court, there is no assurance that the parties will abide by it. One parent can easily change their mind about some terms in the plan or fail to follow the requirements laid down in the agreement. But when this happens, the other parent will have no relief or means to enforce it. 

A parenting plan that is not filed with the court is unenforceable. The court does not have jurisdiction over the parenting agreement and cannot order any one of the parties to abide by the terms agreed upon. This can put not only the parties but also the child in a tough situation. 

So Do You Need to File a Parenting Plan?

Absolutely. A parenting plan does not hold enough weight or any guarantee without court jurisdiction. Filing it with the family court ensures that all the terms and requirements agreed upon, whether relating to parental rights or responsibilities, parenting time, child support, etc. are observed and can be enforced. 

For unmarried parents, they should file a petition for the allocation of parental responsibilities for the court to order the physical and legal custodial rights to one or both of the parents. This includes decision-making, parenting time, and child support. 

Filing a parenting plan with the family court allows the parents to seek legal relief should one of them fail to observe the terms of the parenting plan. This benefits the parties and ensures that the child’s best interests are served even after the divorce or separation.

Leslie
Shafer

Partner - Alternative Dispute Resolution

Colorado Springs

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