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Margie: It’s a time for family, but what if your marriage is over and you’re working through a divorce? Jonathan Marks with The Marks Law Firm is here this morning to talk about what parents should consider when it comes to a parenting plan. Good morning to you.
JM: Good morning, Margie.
Margie: So let’s start with a holiday visitation. What do parents need to keep in mind?
JM: Realistically, every parenting plan is going to set forth a holiday or a special day visitation schedule. Within it, you’re going to have your major school holidays, such as federal holidays along with winter break, spring break, Thanksgiving; and when putting together the schedule you really need to take a look at how your work schedule fits along with what the children’s school schedule is going to be. So you come up with a schedule that maximizes each parent’s’ time with the children.
Margie: What are some of the most common issues you see and how should parents address them when it comes to a parenting plan?
JM: Well, the most common issue you see is that somebody takes the parenting plan literally. So if it states for example that you’re going to have it from December 23rd to December 27th, there’s no flexibility involved, and it really can interfere when a parent is having a look at maybe a special holiday event, or they want to take an out-of-town travel, and as a result of it, they’re unable to communicate with their former spouse to have a discussion that really can lead to the flexibility to be in the best interest of a child.
Margie: Is that something you can put in there?
JM: Well, every parenting plan says that, in essence, the two of you can agree to whatever you wish. But if you can’t agree, then this is what you’re going to have. So look at the parenting plan more as the insurance plan as opposed to the end-all, be-all what your custody arrangement should be.
Margie: What about for those parents that have been divorced for a while, their parenting plan has already has been in place for years, but some circumstances have changed; what should they do?
JM: So you have to look at what the circumstance is. So for example, if it’s custody-related, you’re going to want to determine whether or not it’s worth your time to go back to court because that change and something having to do with one of the parents or with the children, maximizes the need to go back to court to actually make a change. Or from a support standpoint, if a change in income has arisen; one of the parents has gone from a very high income, or someone has unfortunately a loss of income, and you think that that overall child support amount is going to change by about twenty percent or more, then you should consider contacting your attorney and maybe going back to court to change that support amount.
Margie: Is it generally worth it to go back to court, or is that something, I guess, on every individual’s case you need to talk to your attorney about?
JM: You really have to have a long discussion to figure out whether or not the cost involved is going to make it worth your time to go back to court.
Margie: So that initial parenting plan is very important.
JM: Absolutely. The more time you spend with your attorney for the ability to make sure that it addresses all of your concerns, the better off you’re going to be in the long term.
Margie: All right. Family law Attorney Jonathan Marks. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.
JM: My pleasure. Thank you.
Margie: For more information on The Marks Law Firm head to stlmoms.com