Disagreement over regular parenting time, holidays, and decision making authority is a frequent source of litigation. Until a Court rules on such issues, both parents have equal parenting rights which can create a limbo situation where there is in effect no legal requirement that the other parent return the children at the end of an informally scheduled visitation period. Accordingly, it is very important that you obtain a temporary Parenting Plan as soon as possible.
The Court will decide parenting issues when parents can’t otherwise agree. With respect to determining which parent should be the “primary” parent and a proper visitation schedule, the Court commonly considers the following factors:
(i) The relative strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent;
(ii) Agreements of the parties;
(iii) Each parent’s past and potential for future performance of parenting functions, including which parent has taken greater responsibility over the daily needs of the child;
(iv) The emotional needs and developmental level of the child;
(v) The child’s relationship with siblings and with other significant adults, as well as the child’s involvement with his or her surroundings, school, and activities;
(vi) The wishes of the parents and the wishes of a child who is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to his or her residential schedule;
(vii) The parents’ employment schedules;
(viii) The court may also order alternating parenting (i.e. 50/50 parenting) if it’s deemed to be in the children’s best interests and it’s geographically reasonable.
The law in this area is very flexible, with the Court allowed a great deal of discretion to determine the children’s “best interest”. Accordingly, predicting how a Court will rule in this regard can be difficult, with every case unique and requiring its own analysis. There is no one-size fits all analysis, but we will work together to analyze your family’s particular circumstances to ensure an appropriate Parenting Plan.