Divorce with kids in Georgia: Developing a successful co-parenting plan

Developing a co-parenting plan that works for their family may be essential to families moving forward with shared parenting following a divorce.

When Georgia courts award joint custody to parents following a divorce or separation, it entitles each of them to share in the physical and legal custody of their children. This includes having nearly equal parenting time and involvement in decision-making regarding such issues as their child's medical care, education and religious upbringing. While such arrangements may seem straightforward, developing a written plan may help clearly specify what is expected of each parent and prevent some disagreements. Although there is no one-size-fits-all plan, including some key components may help families co-parent successfully.

General statement

When developing a parenting plan, it is a good idea for parents to begin with a general statement dictating their intention to cooperatively parent their children. In addition to agreeing to consult with one another on all vital issues relating to their child's welfare, the general statement may also include a clause specifying that the parents should respect one another's authority and parenting style and foster an ongoing relationship between their child and the other parent.

Specifics of living arrangement and time-sharing

Essential to any parenting plan is the time schedule. This outline indicates how the child will share time between the two parents' households. For example, it may specify that the father has the child on Mondays, Tuesdays and every other weekend, while the child is with the mother on Wednesdays, Thursdays and the opposite weekends. This portion of the parenting plan may also propose who is responsible for transportation and when, or where exchanges will take place.

Provisions for holidays, observances and special days

No parent wants to be without their children on special days or holidays. However, when co-parenting after a divorce, people may have to make such concessions. Developing a plan for what holidays and other special occasions a child will spend with each parent ahead of time may help avoid some potentially heated disagreements down the road. People may choose to have their child split time during the day between the two households or switch off from one year to the next.

Amending the agreement

As children grow up and family circumstances change, parenting agreements may need revisions from time to time. Including a clause that specifies under what circumstances amendments may be made may help prevent some disputes that might otherwise require legal intervention. It may also be helpful for this clause to dictate how disputes will be settled, which may include requiring mediation.

While most Georgia parents act in their children's best interests, they may not always agree on what that is following a divorce or separation. Such strife may impede them creating a parenting arrangement, as well as create deeper issues for the family as a whole. Working with a legal representative may aid with communications, and thus help with the negotiation process so families are able to focus on moving forward.