When parents decide to divorce, they must remember that they will remain just that -- parents -- with a shared interest in raising their child. For this reason, some parents may want to create a parenting plan out of court, instead of leaving the matter up to a judge, where they have the ability to work together to come up with an agreed upon child custody schedule. However, Minnesota Statutes dictate what factors such a plan must address.
Per Minnesota Statutes section 518.1705, a parenting plan must address several elements. First of all, it must include a schedule of how much time the child will be spending with each parent and when. It must also include a provision regarding which parent will have decision-making responsibilities with regards to the child, whether it is one parent or both parents. Since problems may eventually arise with regards to child custody down the road, a parenting plan must include a method that the parents will follow for dispute resolution. Other matters important to the parents with regards to the child can also be included in the plan. If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court has the option to create one, or to issue an order for child custody and parenting time.
Parenting plans can be useful if, despite getting a divorce, both parents want to work together to make decisions that are in the child's best interests. Creating a parenting plan out of court gives parents a larger say as to how custody and visitation arrangements will be made, rather than leaving the decision entirely up to the court. And if parents getting divorced can still cooperate enough to create a parenting plan, they may be able to cooperate together in the future when necessary, despite having divorced.
In the end, whether or not to create an out-of-court parenting plan is a very personal decision. Each parent's divorce is different, and what works for some divorcees may not work for other divorcees. However, those parents who are able to work out a parenting plan that meets all the legal requirements of one may find that they are able to provide their child with the stability and love the child needs to grow and thrive.