Unmarried Parents: Why a Parenting Plan is an Absolute Must-Have

How does an unmarried couple deal with issues like child support, custody, and visitation after they separate? The answer isn’t always a simple one. When it comes to parenting matters, you’ll face many of the same challenges presented to married couples with kids, and you may even have to deal with a few more unique issues. When developing a parenting plan, one thing is clear: Compassionate and experienced legal guidance, like what we at Freed Marcroft provide, will likely be in your best interests. After all, a properly-written parenting plan can make your separation go more smoothly for you, your ex-partner, and, most importantly, your children.

Think of the Children

Most mental health and child development experts agree that children tend to cope better with divorce when their parents have an amicable split. The same is true when unmarried parents separate. If it seems difficult to get along with post-breakup emotions running high, prioritize your kids’ well-being. If you can find a way to cooperate on issues, focus on moving forward, and get along in a civil way, your children will ultimately thank you for it. When all’s said and done and you have a solid parenting plan in place, you’ll know you made the right choice.

Protect Your Parental Rights

Before you can know the benefits of a parenting plan, you should understand your inherent rights as a parent. You have a host of parental rights and responsibilities, even if you’re not married. For instance, you have the right:

  • To stay in close contact with your child
  • To participate in your child’s upbringing
  • To help make major decisions about your child’s life, like healthcare and education, as well as responsibilities like the duty to protect your child from harm.

When it comes to safeguarding these rights, your parenting plan is an essential legal document—one that, if written with legal guidance from us, will ensure your rights aren’t compromised. You should keep in mind that, just as with married couples, Connecticut child support statutes also apply to unmarried parents. Unlike when married couples divorce though, your separation isn’t likely to end with court-ordered property and asset division.

Make It Work For Both of You

While you can make a parenting plan on your own, it may be more beneficial to work on it with your ex-partner, even if you need mediation or counseling to get through it. You’ll be able to collaborate on your plan to decide on things like a basic custody schedule, a schedule for holidays and vacation time, rules on the parental expenses you’ll share, and the structure of your decision-making authority. The document should also include a method for resolving disputes or modifying the plan if things change.

Once you’ve created the parenting plan, we will submit it to the court, where, once it is approved by the judge, it will become a legally binding court order. All in all, the best way to protect your parental rights is to cooperate with your ex (when possible), be comfortable making some compromises for the sake of your children, and to involve compassionate counsel who can guide you through what courts tend to view as agreements that are in the best interests of the children.

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