A Parenting Plan is a court document that outlines how parents will raise their children.  These parenting plans can memorialize the terms parents mutually agree upon, or, if parents do not agree, a judge can enter his or her own terms after a hearing.  Under Missouri Law, Parenting Plans address the following parenting topics, among others:

  1. Parental decision making;
  2. Transportation and logistics;
  3. Communication between the parents and the children;
  4. Choice of school;
  5. How parenting time will be shared throughout the year; and
  6. How the children will be supported financially.

How long does a Parenting Plan last?

The terms of a Parenting Plan remain in place until a child emancipates, or until the judge orders other terms – either by agreement of the parents, or after a hearing.  Parents are required to follow the Parenting Plan, so it is important that the terms of the Plan clearly and accurately reflect their intentions.

Is a Parenting Plan enforceable?

Yes.  Once a judge signs a Parenting Plan, it is an enforceable court order.  Hopefully parents will be able to co-parent informally, however, in the event a disagreement arises, parents are bound by the Parenting Plan so it is important that everyone is comfortable with the Plan that is signed by the judge.

Can the terms of a Parenting Plan be changed?

Terms relating to the custody and support of children may be modified under certain circumstances.  For example, if the custody provisions are no longer in a child’s best interests, the judge may modify those terms.  Terms relating to the support of children may also be modified under certain circumstances.  The modifiability of a Parenting Plan is heavily dependent upon the individual facts.

Parents sometimes wish to informally change the financial terms of their Parenting Plan, however, any changes to financial terms should be done through the formal court process and should not be done informally.  For example, if the recipient of child support wishes to waive child support (or any other payments), it is always best to do so with a formal court order, signed by a judge.  If you intend to make changes to your Parenting Plan, it is advisable to first talk with an attorney.

Be aware every situation is unique.  If you have questions about your individual situation, please contact us.  This post should not be considered legal advice.

For more information about Parenting Plans, see Mo. Rev. Stat. §452.310.