A parenting plan is a tool used by the court to ensure that parents know how to proceed with issues of visitation.
Once you’ve entered into an Oklahoma parenting plan, the parties must abide by it and a judge can enforce it as necessary.
Why an Oklahoma Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is meant to encourage parents to co-parent as effectively as possible, even when they are no longer in a relationship or even like each other.
Courts, in most cases, will require parents to share joint legal custody, which pertains to decision-making about education, religion, extracurricular activities, health, etc.
Only in cases of severe abuse or violence will a court typically award sole legal custody to one parent.
Therefore, an Oklahoma parenting plan will require parents to set forth who will make decisions. The answer is typically that both parents will share this responsibility.
The primary purpose of an Oklahoma parenting plan is to determine when the non-custodial parent will visit with the children.
In instances where a child is in infancy or has a developmental problem, the court may allow the noncustodial parent to enter into a graduated visitation schedule, which allows for more parenting time as the child gets older.
Usually, though, a noncustodial parent will visit with his or her children every other weekend or every weekend. They may also get visitation time during the week, as well.
It is important to note that the custodial parent can never withhold visitation during an agreed upon time, unless there is an actual danger to the children.
The custodial parent and noncustodial parent must also agree on holidays. Mothers usually choose to retain visitation on Mother’s Day and fathers usually get Father’s Day.
For the remainder of the holidays, parents alternate. While one parent gets MLK Day, another may get Presidents Day, for example.
Or, the noncustodial parent may want to ask for all three-day weekends.
As for Christmas and Thanksgiving, many parents alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas. One year, the dad will have Thanksgiving and the next year the mom will spend Thanksgiving with the children. The same applies to Christmas.
However, school-aged children will often have a “Winter Break,” which parents will split as well.
Many noncustodial parents will want to spend all or some of the summer with their children for extended periods of time.
As long as there are no safety concerns, a court will grant at least one to two whole weeks to the noncustodial parent. However, a noncustodial parent can always ask for much more than that (i.e. a whole month or the whole summer.)
Medical and Educational Occurrences
The Oklahoma parenting plan also outlines what to do in the event that a medical or educational decision has to be made.
For example, the parenting plan will outline what to do and who to contact if the child becomes sick. It will also outline what to do if something happens at school and a parent needs to be contacted.
What to do when an emergency occurs will also be determined in your Oklahoma parenting plan. This includes who to contact and where to take the children.
Oklahoma Parenting Plan Tips
Make it practical- Remember, this is not just a piece of paper. It is how you will actually live your life. When making a child visitation schedule, think “Is this practical? Will this work logistically?”
For example, a lot of people travel over Christmas holidays. It would not be practical to agree that the dad has visitation every Christmas Day starting at noon. It would be very difficult for the mom to make travel plans that include spending Christmas away, if she must return the child to the dad at this specific day and time.
You will also want to consider your child’s schedule when drafting an Oklahoma parenting plan. If your daughter plays soccer every weekend, but you’ve planned for her to spend every other weekend with her dad who lives out of town, this arrangement may not work. Always think through every scenario and come up with a parenting plan that truly represents your family’s needs.
Don’t over-complicate it- Many people are tempted to draft a parenting plan that is too detailed or specific, which does not yield to life’s changes. Keep it as simple as possible.
Consider: “The dad shall have parenting time every third weekend, except when Katy has piano or soccer, beginning at 1pm every Saturday. If Katy has piano, the dad can have the fourth Saturday. If Katy has soccer, her dad can have Thursdays.” This is simply too complicated for all parties involved.
A simpler plan to address Katy’s piano and soccer engagements is, “Her dad shall have visitation every third weekend and shall be responsible for transporting and attending any extracurricular activities that may arise.”
Concede– Sometimes parents become too caught up in the minutia and refuse to give in on small matters. Remember that conceding on small things helps move your family toward closure and the path towards healing.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Child Custody Attorney
Determining visitation can be overwhelming. Whether you have sole custody or visitation rights with your children, you should ensure your interests are protected during any Oklahoma parenting plan negotiations.
For a free consultation with a Tulsa child custody attorney, call the Divorce of Tulsa Law Office today at 918-924-5526.