When parents divorce in Tennessee, they are generally required to follow the state’s parenting plan law, unless an exception to their situation applies. A parenting plan essentially functions as a legally-enforceable guide to a family’s co-parenting obligations, responsibilities and benefits. Within the text of a parenting plan, a child’s parents can set the boundaries and expectations that will govern their arrangement.
For example, many parents not only detail their parenting time schedule within their parenting plan, but they may also specify how they’ll handle transportation between households, extracurricular costs, holidays, a child’s cellphone privileges, etc. Essentially, a parenting plan can cover virtually any co-parenting topic that a child’s parents believe should be dealt with proactively and in legally-enforceable ways.
The best interests of… everyone
Of course, the primary focus of any parenting plan must be the best interests of the child at the center of the co-parenting relationship. However, it is important to consider that by structuring a parenting plan thoughtfully, it can serve both co-parents’ best interests as well.
For example, say that it is in the child’s best interests to spend some of their holiday time with one parent and some with the other. Perhaps a family’s unique needs make it so that spending the first half of winter break with Parent A would be far, far more convenient and meaningful than if the child spent the second half of winter break with Parent A. As long as Parent B – or the court, in contested situations – agrees with that arrangement, this structure that serves multiple family members’ needs could be formalized.
While a child’s best interests must be the heart and soul of a parenting plan, there is nothing holding parents back from also making a parenting plan workable for them as well. Those parents who have questions about how to make a parenting plan serve everyone’s best interests may benefit from seeking legal guidance and personalized feedback.