The Parenting Plan
In Missouri, any order of custody must be accompanied by a detailed Parenting Plan that sets out the specific duties and conditions of each parent with regard to physical custody, and will set out a specific schedule of temporary physical custody.
A Parenting Plan must contain a specific written schedule detailing when the child will be in the temporary physical custody of each parent, including provisions for holidays, the child’s birthday, weekday and weekend schedules for school age children, summer vacations, methods of transportation, locations for transfers, appropriate times for telephone access, procedures for notifying the other parent if a deviation from the plan is necessary, and restrictions on the nature of any physical custody.
A Parenting Plan must also contain a specific written plan regarding legal custody and will detail the decision making rights and responsibilities of each parent, including decisions relating to education, health care providers, extracurricular activities, child care providers, communication procedures, and dispute resolution procedures.
Finally, a Parenting Plan must also contain how the parties will handle the financial support of the child, including any child support one parent owes to the other parent, who shall maintain medical and dental insurance for the child, and how to handle educational, transportation, child care and extraordinary expenses.
The Parenting Plan is a vital part of the resolution of any custody issue – a poorly drafted or ambiguously worded Parenting Plan only creates future potential conflict, whereas a thorough and well-drafted Parenting Plan makes the day-to-day exercise of legal and physical custody run as smoothly as possible.