Family Law: Residential Time in Parenting Plans

In an action between married parents – either dissolution or legal separation – residential time arrangements are provided for in the Parenting Plan. In a paternity action – that which involves unmarried parents – a Residential Schedule only may be entered, or a Parenting Plan will be required if requested by a party. The main difference is that a Residential Schedule does not include the decision making or dispute resolution provisions that are normally in a Parenting Plan. Both include the residential time.

The Court shall make residential time provisions for each child which encourage each parent to maintain a loving, stable, and nurturing relationship with the child, consistent with the child’s developmental level and the family’s social and economic circumstances. The Court shall consider the following factors: the relative strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, including whether a parent has taken greater responsibility for performing parenting functions relating to the daily needs of the child; the agreements of the parties, provided they were entered into knowingly and voluntarily; each parent’s past and potential for future performance of parenting functions. Also considered are the emotional needs and developmental level of the child; the child’s relationship with siblings and with other significant adults, as well as the child’s involvement with his or her physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities; the wishes of the parents and the wishes of a child who is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to his or her residential schedule; and each parent’s employment schedule.

A court can limit a parent’s involvement with the children’s residential time when their are issues such as domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse or sexual abuse. The restriction may be limited in time, or require supervision.