Parenting Plans for Self-Representing / Pro Se Litigants

An overwhelming amount of parents cannot afford or do not want to pay to hire an attorney to represent them throughout the entirety of their case; however, they can greatly use some guidance on how to prepare a parenting plan for their child custody case.

In divorce and paternity cases with children, a parenting plan is written and incorporated in a final judgment. The law firm not only offers comprehensive divorce and paternity / child custody representation, but also offers an alternative limited service where attorney Rebekah Brown-Wiseman meets with a parent, discusses creative and customized options for a parenting plan that specifically meets the needs of your family, and then the lawyer drafts a proposed written parenting plan on the parent's behalf. The parent can then proceed to represent themselves and use the parenting plan as their proposal at mediation or if necessary in court when they represent themselves.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is essentially a contract between the parties or if the parties were unable to agree an order from the Court that designates:

  1. What time each party will have with the child(ren) including regular weekday, weekend, holiday and school break timeshare schedules
  2. When, where and how the child(ren) will be exchanged
  3. What methods and technologies parents will use to communicate with each other and their child(ren)
  4. How the parents will be responsible for different types of parental decision making such as health care, child care providers, school-related matters and extra-curricular activities
  5. Whether there are restrictions and / or requirements for travelling with the child(ren)
  6. Who will be responsible for various costs associated with the child(ren)
  7. What safety provisions if any are needed
  8. Where the child will attend school
  9. Parameters / restrictions for relocation of the parents
  10. Whether alternative dispute resolution methods will be used in the event of future problems

What are the Benefits of Limited Legal Representation for the Preparation of a Parenting Plan?

a) Although individuals representing themselves can figure out and make standard choices, they can often use professional assistance to figure how to make better more customized choices.

For example, in reference to child care, standard choices may be that each parent unilaterally select appropriate child care providers during his or her timeshare or all child care providers must be agreed upon by both parents. To customize a child care provider provision, an attorney can provide you with alternative infinite choices. A lawyer can also make you consider possible future situations such as if your child's other parent became involved with a future boyfriend or girlfriend and then wanted to use him or her to watch your child. Examples for customization for the child care provision include the following:

  1. Situation: You regularly have your mother (the child's grandmother) watch the child(ren) and you choose that all child care providers must be mutually agreed upon. Problem with a standard choice: then your ex-spouse or partner gets into an argument with your mother or otherwise annoyed at your mother or just wants to have a bargaining chip, your child's other parent can then deny that your mother be able to watch the child. Solution: To avoid this problem, a parenting plan can be drafted that states that specific named individuals shall be permitted to be child care providers and any other child care providers shall be mutually agreed upon.
  2. This can also be done as the inverse in that if your ex-spouse or child's other parent has a sibling that it not a responsible adult that you do not want to watch your child, but you otherwise trust your ex-spouse or your child's other parent, a parenting plan can be drafted that names specific individuals that shall not be child care providers and designates that each parent may choose any other child care provider.
  3. There can be requirements for child care providers such as age or experience or requirements that a background check be conducted to ensure that the child care provider did not have a drug, sexual or child abuse criminal history.
  4. Child care providers can be limited to designated groups of people such as individuals related by blood; individuals related by either blood or marriage; individuals affiliated with a particular religious or non-secular group, etc.

b. Customized timeshare schedules are particularly important to protective service workers including police, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses and other healthcare or shift workers. Attorney Rebekah Brown-Wiseman can clearly and concisely draft a timeshare schedule that revolves around your work schedule. The clarity of the written parenting plan is essential to avoid misunderstandings and potential future timeshare disputes.

c. The preparation of a parenting plan can be overwhelming when a parent is trying to figure it out by himself or herself. Rebekah Brown-Wiseman's legal service for parenting plan preparation alleviates this stress and makes it into a simple conversation to figure out your needs and provide recommendations to best meet those particular needs. Then she memorializes your desires into a clear and concise written parenting plan.

d. The limited legal service offers a low cost option to be informed of your legal rights and options while also maintaining a low cost alternative to handling your divorce or child custody case that does not break the bank.