What Is a Parenting Plan and Why Do I Need One?

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A parenting plan is a document that sets forth the schedule of parenting time for a child and each of his or her parents. This document often is fairly detailed, and also allocates responsibilities between the parents for making major decisions about the parties’ child. South Carolina law requires that both parents submit an individual proposed parenting plan to the court in any temporary divorce, paternity, or custody hearing in which child custody is contested. At the final hearing in any such legal proceeding, either or both parties may submit an updated proposed parenting plan, if they are dissatisfied with the current parenting plan. If parents can agree, they can submit a joint parenting plan to the court for approval. If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, they each must submit an individual proposed parenting plan for the court to consider.

Required Elements of a Parenting Plan

S.C. Code Ann. § 63-15-220 governs parenting plans in South Carolina child custody proceedings. The South Carolina Supreme Court has developed a proposed parenting plan form for parents to fill out and submit to the court. The plan must contain a very specific schedule as to when the child will spend time with each parent, both during the week, on weekends, during summer break, and during holidays. A parenting plan gives both parents a written schedule to follow with respect to their child. The form also sets forth which parent will make major decisions about their child, including those decisions with respect to medical care, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Finally, the plan allows each parent to describe the type of communication that should occur between parent and child other than during the parenting time schedule. Communication might include telephone calls, emails, text messages, Skype, or other similar methods of communication.

Court-Approved Parenting Plans

A proposed parenting plan does not take legal effect until it is approved by the judge. However, the judge is not required to accept your proposed parenting plan, or the other parent’s proposed plan, either. South Carolina requires judges to consider all proposed parenting plans in light of the best interests of the child. This means that if the judge finds that a provision in a proposed parenting plan is not in the child’s best interests, then he or she does not have to approve it.

Consult Your South Carolina Child Custody Attorney for Advice

Parenting plans contain many important details that ultimately could dictate how your child spends his or her time, and how much control you have over important decisions in your child’s life. As a result, it is essential that you devise the proposed parenting plan that best meets your needs. At the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, we know how to advocate on your behalf in order to obtain the parenting plan that is best for you and your child. Before you end up with a parenting plan that is not acceptable to you, consult your South Carolina family law attorney for advice.

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