When you and your co-parent live separately, you must arrange how you will care for your children. Even parents who do not get along usually try to co-parent cooperatively for the children’s sake.
In some families, one of the parents has primary physical custody, meaning that the children live with them most of the time. The other parent typically has visitation rights, which courts often call parenting or custody time.
Parenting time agreements, also called Parenting Plans, sometimes work well, and sometimes do not. A Ballwin visitation lawyer could help you and your co-parent develop an initial Parenting Plan to present to the court for approval. If challenges arise as you implement the agreement, an attorney from our firm is available to answer questions, offer advice, and take steps to modify or enforce the agreement if necessary.
Developing Custody and Parenting Plans
A Parenting Plan is a detailed document describing how you and your co-parent will share time and responsibility for your children. The plan should describe where the children will live and how much time they will spend with the parent they do not live with. The plan must include a schedule of days and times the children will be with each parent, who is responsible for transportation, and other critical information.
Some parents create a Parenting pPlan without help, but many find working with a mediator or attorney easier and more productive. A skilled attorney or mediator understands what a Parenting Plan must contain and can keep conversations focused on creating a workable document that the court will approve. If you and your co-parent cannot communicate effectively, have a volatile relationship, or have had domestic violence incidents, a Ballwin visitation attorney could work with the other parent’s attorney to develop a plan.
You and your co-parent must submit your Parenting Plan to the court for review and approval. The court will consider whether the plan promotes the children’s best interests. The law presumes, absent other evidence, that plans serve the children’s interests when they provide ample opportunities for the children to spend meaningful time with each parent.
Modifying an Approved Parenting Plan
Parenting Plans must be specific. The detail ensures everyone knows what is expected from them and allows the parents to establish a solid routine, which helps children adjust to their parents living apart.
However, the detail creates rigidity. Parenting Plan needs often change as time goes on to accommodate the children’s evolving needs or developments in the parents’ lives. If the changes are minor, such as changing dates or times of visits, you and your co-parent can typically make enforceable minor adjustments in writing.
More significant changes require a different procedure. If one or all of the children will be moving from one parent’s custody to the other, the schedule is being completely renegotiated, or there are substantial changes to the holiday or summer schedule, you and your co-parent must file a motion with the court even if you both agree on the change. In addition to demonstrating that the changes are in the best interest of the child or children, you must prove that a substantial change in circumstances merits changing the custody order. A visitation attorney serving Ballwin could advise whether a Motion to Modify Custody is necessary and, if so, help you present or defend the request.
Enforcing a Visitation Agreement
Court-approved Parenting Plans are enforceable orders. If a parent is not complying with the plan, the other parent could take them to court to force them to adhere to it.
However, it is not feasible for co-parents to take each other to court whenever they disagree. The better strategy is a frank conversation, or series of conversations, about why a parent is non-compliant. Sometimes you and your co-parent can resolve the matter by making relatively minor changes to the plan or working with a mediator.
However, significant or dangerous non-compliance is a matter for the court. Relocating the children without permission or exposing the children to drug use, criminal activity, or domestic violence could merit court intervention. Missouri allows courts to hear emergency motions to protect children from harm. A Ballwin attorney could assist a parent who requires an emergency order. A Family Access Motion may also be appropriate if visits are being withheld.
Get Help From a Ballwin Visitation Attorney
Your time with your children is essential. If problems arise in the visitation schedule or if your co-parent is non-compliant, a dedicated attorney could help you take the initiative to resolve the issue.
A Ballwin visitation lawyer could offer advice and provide legal support if you must access the courts. Call Jones Family Law Group, LLC today to speak with a seasoned custody and visitation attorney.