As parents, divorce means making crucial decisions that will impact your children. Because you and your ex no longer live together, you have to figure out how your children will spend time with both of you. This is often a difficult process. But it is best for everyone if you and your co-parent can present a proposed plan to the court instead of leaving these big decisions up to the court.
You need to focus on three key issues: child support, parenting time and legal custody.
The court will handle the calculations for child support, but you and the other parent should discuss details concerning the aspects of the support. For example, North Carolina law states that support obligations end when the child turns 18 years old (or 20 years old, if they are attending secondary school full-time). This may be something you want to alter for your family, especially if your children will go to college.
Support should also address extra costs that go beyond the intended expenses that child support covers. This might include private school tuition, expenses for extracurricular activities and fees for clubs and other organizations.
When addressing parenting time, you need to keep practicality in mind. But you also want to make sure whatever you decide on will allow your children to have adequate time with each parent. It is essential that your children have a chance to form meaningful relationships with both of you. Do keep in mind that you can modify parenting time in the future as your family’s needs change.
Finally, you want to address legal custody, which is the power to make decisions for and on behalf of your children. Ideally, the court likes to see joint legal custody. This may work in many cases, but you should always do what is right for your family situation.
You don’t want to leave the fate of your family in the court’s hands. Coming up with a proposed parenting plan before your court date can make a valuable difference in the outcome of your case. An experienced family law attorney can help you sort through these important issues.