Parenting Plans are very important. They outline the responsibilities of the parents and clarify what is in the best interest of the child. Pennsylvania does not require a parenting plan according to 23 Pa. C.S.A. Section 5331. In Pennsylvania, it also depends on the county in which you live. For example: In Washington County, Pennsylvania they require parenting plans for contested custody cases. However, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania they do not require parenting plans.
My Day in Court
When I went to gain more rights to my daughter, Christal; I first filed a Modification with the Court of Common Pleas. The reason I had to do this was there was already an Order of the Court already in place. In Pennsylvania, you are required to go to a “Parents Forever” Seminar. This is a four hour seminar that teaches parents how to co-parent. When I was done, I had to provide the Court with the certification of my completion. If I did not complete this requirement, I would have been held in contempt.
After I showed the Court that I completed the seminar, I then had to go to custody conferences. They represent mediation. In the custody conferences, my ex-husband and I had to work out a parenting plan. When we agreed to the context of the agreement, we both received copies. After a couple of months, we then had to go to a custody conference and the conference officer reviewed the past months. When there was an issue, like when my ex-husband refused me visitation with Christal, she would help us come up with another parenting plan that worked better.
After our first custody conference, I was awarded an extra day (Friday-Monday) to take my daughter to doctor and dentist appointments. At the time, she weighed only 48lbs at the age of 8! After our second conference, I was awarded another day. This time my visitation was from Friday- Tuesdays. I would then take her to school and drop her off. I asked for this, since I could not make all of her appointments on Mondays.
In June of 2007, we agreed to every other week. This worked out well, since it was years since I got to spend a week with her. I also, had all week to take my daughter to appointments. She was also involved in therapy, since I had requested that in our first custody conference. She was regressing to the point that we had to put her back in pull-ups and start the potty training all over. She was also on the Binky, (aka: Pacifier), as well.
In August, my ex had told the courts he would be out of state. Knowing this, the court allowed a telephone conference, so he could be present. He did not call at the required time. I had told the conference officer that Christal had stated that he was at his home and that they should call him, which they did. When he answered, the conference officer had told him that this was not allowed and that he had lied to the courts. As a punishment, the every other week stood.
I then requested for a hearing, since I did not want to lose this time that I got to spend with Christal. Her father was trying to take it back to an every other weekend. Our hearing occurred in February of 2008. At this hearing, I provided letters that my ex had written, school documents, and witness testimony. My ex’s mother and girlfriend would not testify. Our Judge had told them that they were not asked. If they wanted to be a part of Christal’s life, they needed to testify. Christal was also spoken to by the judge on camera (judge’s chambers). Since there were so many issues with my ex’s side, our case went for a continuance.
On Mother’s Day of the same year, we had our next hearing. In this hearing, my daughter’s therapist, ex-mother-in-law, ex-husband’s girlfriend all testified. Right before the end of our hearing, I had asked if I could rebut the first hearing. I had explained all the issues that I had encountered between the hearings. I was happy to find out that on my birthday, which is June 5, that I gained full-custody of my angel and that my ex cannot gain custody of her again.
The courts took his every Wednesdays and his vacation during the summer away due to negligence. I lost my daughter in 2002, due to me not knowing what to expect going pro se and not having money. I gained her back due to my hard work and dedication to my daughter’s best interests and well-being.
I included this in my memo, for the simple fact that not all cases are black and white. The law itself has a lot of gray areas. What one county requires, another does not. Same thing goes with states. You cannot be ignorant about the law.
My state does not require parenting plans, but they are implemented within the court process when filing for custody, modification of an order, and contempt of court order as expressed in my own case stated above.
To file for parental rights or to modify an order, such as a divorce, legal separation, or parenting petition, you must include a parenting plan. In Rules of the Circuit Court of the State of New Hampshire-Family Division, Section2-Domestic Relations, 2.18 Parenting Plans shows you what is required within your parenting plan, and the order of the contents.
I like how New Hampshire requires the parenting plan, because it saves money and court time as well.
References Child Custody Act, 23 Pa. C.S.A § 5331 NH Court Rules, Rules of the Family Division of the State of NH, Section 2-Domestic Relations, Rule 2.18 Bertin, M. (February 8, 2011). New Child Custody Act Ushers in Sweeping Changes. Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP Attorneys At Law Retrieved on December 15, 2011 from www.obermayer.com/publications.php?action=views&id=200