Since March 2009 the drawing up of a parenting plan in the event of separation has become obligatory for spouses and registered partners with minor children, regardless of whether there is joint parental authority. A divorce petition must contain a parenting plan. Unmarried parents with joint parental authority of minor children must also draw up a parenting plan during separation.
Contents of the parenting plan
The law requires that the following must always be included in a parenting plan:
- the division of the care and responsibility for a child’s upbringing or the manner in which contact with the child is arranged;
- the manner in which the parents will inform each other and consult about important matters which concern the children (the duty of disclosure);
- the child alimony.
A parenting plan must be signed by both parents. The parenting plan or the divorce petition must also state in what manner the children have been involved with the drawing up of the parenting plan. After the drawing up, the parenting plan will possibly still need to be changed once or more than once. What is a good arrangement today may perhaps not be appropriate in half a year’s time.
No agreement about the parenting plan
If parents do not reach agreement about the parenting plan, the matters on which the parents did reach agreement must be included in the divorce petition, as well as the matters about which they have not (yet) reached agreement and the reasons why there is still no agreement about these matters. The parents must also individually state how, according to him/her, the parenting would be formed after the divorce. A court can indeed decide that a divorce petition without a parenting plan cannot be dealt with. A court will not make this decision if consultation between the parents is impossible or cannot be expected of one of the parents. This can for example be the case in situations of alcohol or drug addiction, psychiatric complaints or domestic violence. The drawing up of a parenting plan is not easy. Arrangements must be considered for the children at the commencement of the divorce, while the parents are sometimes still living together. Furthermore, arrangements of a financial nature also form part of the parenting plan. It is therefore advisable to request the assistance from a lawyer during the drawing up of a parenting plan. VAN LEEUWEN LAW FIRM knows the practical consequences of agreements in a parenting plan and can advise you on this. Also, if it is impossible to reach agreements jointly about the details of the parenting plan, VAN LEEUWEN LAW FIRM can assist you and see if it is possible to reach agreements at a later date.