Karen S. HindsonThe parenting plan required for all Georgia custody cases is mandated by law.  If the parties cannot reach agreement on the terms of a permanent parenting plan, each party prepares a proposed parenting plan and submits it to the judge.  Parenting plans are needed for both the initial custody determination and any subsequent modifications.

Parenting plan contents

The Georgia legislature has specified what must be included in a parenting plan. O.C.G.A. § 19-9-1(b)(2) includes the following requirements:

“Unless otherwise ordered by the judge, or agreed upon by the parties, a parenting plan shall include, but not be limited to:
(A) Where and when a child will be in each parent’s physical care, designating where the child will spend each day of the year;
(B) How holidays, birthdays, vacations, school breaks, and other special occasions will be spent with each parent including the time of day that each event will begin and end;
(C) Transportation arrangements including how the child will be exchanged between the parents, the location of the exchange, how the transportation costs will be paid, and any other matter relating to the child spending time with each parent;
(D) Whether supervision will be needed for any parenting time and, if so, the particulars of the supervision;
(E) An allocation of decision-making authority to one or both of the parents with regard to the child’s education, health, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing, and if the parents agree the matters should be jointly decided, how to resolve a situation in which the parents disagree on resolution;
(F) What, if any, limitations will exist while one parent has physical custody of the child in terms of the other parent contacting the child and the other parent’s right to access education, health, extracurricular activity, and religious information regarding the child; and
(G) If a military parent is a party in the case:
(i) How to manage the child’s transition into temporary physical custody to a nondeploying parent if a military parent is deployed;
(ii) The manner in which the child will maintain continuing contact with a deployed parent;
(iii) How a deployed parent’s parenting time may be delegated to his or her extended family;
(iv) How the parenting plan will be resumed once the deployed parent returns from deployment; and
(v) How divisions (i) through (iv) of this subparagraph serve the best interest of the child.”

Parenting plans are often developed by the parties and their lawyers at mediation. Sometimes the parties are able to agree on all of the essential terms in discussions between themselves. Our firm can provide sample plans to guide your discussions. We can also offer suggestions to address any specific issues or concerns you may have to protect your child’s best interest.

© Karen S. Hindson, Hindson & Melton LLC.   January 12, 2014