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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Lovin' Series: How do Unmarried Parents work out Custody and a Parenting Plan?

Summer is finally here.  The air is humid, the sunblock is out, and it's finally time for vacations and school break.  But enjoying summer too much has its consequences.  Our Summer Lovin' series is about those consequences for Unmarried Parents in Massachusetts:

Summer Lovin' Series #3: How do Unmarried Parents work out Custody and a Parenting Plan?

Children of unmarried parents are by default in the custody of their mother. Parents can agree to share custody or arrange for visitation through collaborative negotiation or mediation when appropriate. If they can't agree then the court can create a parenting plan with the filing of a Complaint for Custody and Visitation.

A Parenting Plan is a comprehensive agreement which sets out both the time that children will spend with each parent as well as the rights and obligations of each parent to the children and the other parent during their parenting time. It can include a holiday visitation schedule, pick-up and drop-off locations, and even agreements relating to what will happen if one of the children becomes ill.

Parenting Plans can be made specific in instances where it is necessary to prevent future conflict, and they can be made flexible so that you and the other parent can make agreements outside of the parenting plan in unforeseen circumstances.  You should ask your attorney to see a sample of their Parenting Plan and to explain what each provision of the plan is for.

In addition, using a calendar to visualize proposed parenting plans can be helpful in figuring out what will work best for your family. For that purpose we have created the Parenting Plan Worksheet. You can use the Parenting Plan Worksheet to visualize typical parenting plans, including those recommended by the Massachusetts Model Parenting Plans, or create your own custom plan.

For more information visit our webpage devoted specifically to information for unmarried parents.

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