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What is a Parenting Plan?

In 2005, the Texas legislature updated the state's child custody and visitation laws, and one of its changes was the requirement of parenting plans. A "parenting plan" is either a temporary or final court order which sets forth the rights and responsibilities of parents in regards to conservatorship, possession of and access to a child, and child support.

When parents are getting divorced, they are required to submit a proposed parenting plan, and once such a plan is signed off by the judge, it will become an order of the court.

The legislatures created parenting plans in an effort to update the state's outdated terminology associated with conservatorship. In general, matters pertaining to child custody, visitation, and support are the most contentious issues in a divorce. Usually once these matters are resolved, the courts find that parties have easier time agreeing on property and debt division.

Parenting plans are widely used in jurisdictions outside of Texas; they have actually been around for many years in Texas, however, divorce attorneys have used different terminology that refers to the agreements between parents in divorce and child custody proceedings.

What Parenting Plans Include

Parenting plans include the following:

  • How the parents will share the decision making responsibilities
  • Establish the rights and duties of each parent
  • A possession and access schedule (visitation schedule)
  • Provides for child support

High-Conflict Cases

In a high-conflict case where parents have demonstrated an unusual degree of repetitious litigation, anger and distrust, a parenting coordinator (a neutral third-party) may be appointed by the court to assist the parties in resolving their issues.

The point of parenting plans is to decrease the reliance on the family courts for resolving disputes about child custody, visitation, and support matters. Litigation is counterproductive and clogs the courts' dockets. A protracted court battle is also expensive, and children do not benefit by watching their parents engaged in seemingly endless conflicts.

The new legislation strives to encourage parents to continue sharing in the responsibilities of raising their children, even years after the divorce has been finalized. Further, agreed parenting plans allow parents to exercise a sense of control and they are more inclined to explore alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, instead of turning to the family courts every time the smallest conflict arises.

Would you like more information about Texas parenting plans? Feel free to contact Mathur Law Offices, P.C. to schedule a free consultation with our founder, Mr. Sanjay Mathur.

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