A Parenting Plan is essential to address the many issues surrounding child custody and time-sharing. Child custody and time-sharing issues should always be addressed through a Parenting Plan. Even in uncontested and otherwise amicable divorces or other child custody situations, it is best for the parties to establish a fairly detailed Parenting Plan. A lack of detail will lead to unnecessary disputes even in the best of situations.
There are many issues addressed in the Parenting Plan beyond simple custody and time-sharing. Some of the issues may seem trivial at first sight but can become quite adversarial in the event the parties begin to quarrel. The major issues include child support, school and daycare issues, doctors, dentists, discipline and religious preferences. However, parents can have very different opinions on other seemingly minor issues such as extracurricular activities, hobbies, allowance, household chores, and even haircuts and style of dress. There are many other issues that may arise as well depending upon the circumstances.
Hopefully, the parties can agree on these issues between themselves. If not, they will be surprised at the level of control that the court will take over even the smallest details of parenting. A good example of this is the Thirteenth Judicial District Court’s Local Rules, which cover Rio Rancho and Sandoval County. Their local rules included a form entitled Order Regarding Parenting Instructions. Though not all the Courts have created such an Order, rest assured that all New Mexico Courts closely adhere to the principles set forth in it. Before the parties set out on a path of conflict and confrontation, they would be well advised to review that Order. Decide then whether they would like the Court to exercise the level of control over their relationship with their children that is exhibited in that document.
The relationship between a parent and his or her child(ren) is sacred for both the parent and the child. The child needs and deserves a healthy relationship with each parent unless that is simply not possible due to the circumstances. The Courts recognize this and do their utmost to preserve, protect and promote the parent-child relationship. The Thirteenth Judicial District’s Order Regarding Parenting Instructions clearly illustrates the importance that the Courts place on the relationship. In the event that the parents absolutely cannot work out an agreement between themselves, the Court will have no choice but to exercise its authority and control over each and every detail of the Parenting Plan.
There are many routes to a Parenting Plan. The Court provides a variety of resources to assist parents in this important process including mediation services, Family Court Clinic, and emergency child custody resources. Each step up in Court services comes with increasing loss of control for the parties. Most parents with rare exceptions would be wise to keep the Court‘s involvement to a minimum.