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How important is a clear parenting time plan?

Establishing a schedule or plan for parenting time is extremely important in custody cases. Children need structure, and knowing when they are going to see which parent and how long the parenting time will be allows them to feel more control over the situation. How your parenting time plan is set up, however, largely depends on your individual circumstances and what is deemed in the best interests of the children.

Some parents who are able to coparent amicably and have strong and open communication are able to just have "reasonable parenting time" as the schedule in the parenting plan. This gives the parents the most flexibility in developing a system and visitation schedule that works for them. It also allows the parents to change the schedule at any time without having to go through the courts as long as they both agree.

While this can be a very good system for some, it can also lead to problems. Because there are no clear cut guidelines or a specific schedule, it can be more difficult to resolve disagreements. If one parent suddenly starts refusing the other visitation, the parties have to attempt to come to an agreement before taking it to the courts. At that point, the case then has to go through the full court process before a new schedule is determined.

It may be helpful for those who want a "reasonable visitation" plan to consider adding a default schedule to their parenting plan in the event that they cannot agree. This ensures the noncustodial parent still has specific parenting times while the case is heard in the courts.

Source: Colorado Foundation for Families and Children, "Connecting With Your Kids: Important Information on Parenting Time in Colorado," Jane A. Irvine M.A., accessed March 11, 2016

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