How does a Tennessee Parenting plan work?

Careful and thorough understanding of your parenting plan is important

During a divorce in Tennessee, if the couple has children, one of the most important elements of the process will be the creation of a parenting plan. The parenting plan will serve as the blueprint for the couple in raising their children after the divorce and should be designed with the best interests of the child or children in mind.

The Permanent Parenting Plan

In the ideal case, the parents will work to develop a parenting plan together. Because the parents know their children best, they are in the best position to know the type of plan that will best serve their children's needs.

The elements of a plan are identified by statute and the structure of the statute suggests that the legislature intends that a plan should be flexible and adaptable for the children as they grow and that it should not require the intervention of the courts to make changes.

One of the benefits of working out a comprehensive plan that can become your Permanent Parenting Plan in Tennessee is that it demands both parents work through the details of what will be required of them.

It allows them to see what their lives will be like once the divorce is finalized and the parenting plan in place. This can lead to the proper expectations and minimize the petty frustrations that can develop into broader disagreements.

The Schedule of Your Life

The parenting plan form identifies the Primary Residential Parent and the number of days the child or children will spend with each of their parents.

The schedule includes the days of the week or weekends each parent will spend with their child and how other events, such as major holidays, seasonal vacations and birthdays, including the parent's birthday will be allocated. It divides the winter vacation into two parts, with each parent alternating every year.

It also includes the transportation elements of the plan and describes the exchange of the children between the parents. These are the types of details that if not prompted, many parents may not think about until the day arrives. Eliminating surprises and the unexpected in the aftermath of a divorce can go a long ways towards reducing conflict between parents.

Decision Making

Another important part of the plan is the day-to-day decision-making process. Each parent has the responsibility while the child is residing with them, but the major decisions can be split jointly for such issues as education, routine health care, religious upbringing and extracurricular activities.

The parenting plan will also include child support, but the amount is determined by the statutory child support calculations. It also allocates items like the Federal Income Tax exemption, health and dental insurance costs and life insurance.

Dispute Resolution

The plan form makes it clear that the courts expect that both parents will make a good faith effort to resolve their differences outside of the courts, indicating a preference for mediation or arbitration. The form also notes that if a parent "willfully" fails to appear during the process, they could be required to pay the other parent's attorneys fees or other financial sanction.

The form is nine pages long and you and your attorney should carefully work through every provision, to make certain you understand every element and what it will require of you. It contains a list of the "Rights of Parents" and again, you should understand every statement, as these rules will govern your interaction with your children and their other parent for the life of the plan.