Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-9-1, as of January 1, 2008, a parenting plan is required for permanent custody and modification actions and in the judge’s discretion may be required for temporary hearings. A parenting plan may be submitted, individually or jointly, for approval by the court. A parenting plan shall include among other things, where and when a child will be in each parent’s physical care, designating which parent the child will spend each day of the year; how holidays, special occasions and vacations will be divided, transportation arrangements and costs, and an allocation of decision-making authority regarding the child’s education, health, extra-curricular activities, and religious upbringing.
The Parenting Plan will also set forth any other rights or limitations each parent will have such as when the parents may contact the child when in the custody of the other parent, the parents’ right to access any education, health, extracurricular activity, and religious documentation regarding the child. It is important to note that while the court requires that the parenting plan say which parent the child or children will be with on each day of the year, the parents are fee to freely exchange the children whenever they can agree to do so. The court wants to have each parent’s rights defined in the parenting plan in case the parents cannot agree at some time in the future.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement on a permanent parenting plan, each party can file and serve a proposed parenting plan. And at trial the Judge will decide which parenting plan is in the best interest of the child or the Judge may decide to create his or her own parenting Plan. At Trial both parents will present evidence to the Judge to support their argument that their parenting plan in the best interest of the child or children. A form parenting plan can be found at fultoncourt.org.