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Parenting plans often allow for enhanced flexibility, creativity

Many things have changed materially in the family law universe in recent years.

Marital contracts -- both premarital and postnuptial agreements -- have gained real traction, for example, as increasingly more couples see the rationale underlying such documents and their strong utility as planning instruments. Family composition is ever-changing, with so-called nuclear families being augmented considerably in recent years by more blended families, extended-family units, same-sex couples, single-parent households and more.

And parenting plans have emerged in a big way to change child custody schedules and outcomes in a big way.

People of a certain age in Georgia and elsewhere can easily remember a time when custody outcomes in divorce cases followed a typically repetitive pattern. As we note in an article on our website addressing custody and parental roles, days of yesteryear were routinely marked by stay-at-home moms awarded sole custody of the children, with dads being deemed noncustodial parents with limited visitation rights and child support obligations.

That is still true in some instances, of course, but it is far from being the outcome in many divorce cases these days in Georgia and nationally. Rather than child custody outcomes being rigid and gender-differentiated determinations, post-divorce parenting and time sharing is now much more defined through creative and individually tailored parenting plans.

Such plans readily take into account that many women now work outside the home and that many men seek a more inclusive relationship with their kids following divorce. A well-crafted parenting plan promotes agreement on scheduling and all other matters regarding custody and time sharing.

As our article notes, parents working with an experienced family law and child custody attorney "can often avoid or minimize later conflict" by negotiating and putting into writing a detailed parenting plan during the divorce process.

And, importantly, doing so reduces the potential for judicially imposed directives, which, despite a judge's best intentions, often do not promote the interests of any affected family member.

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