Because the issue relating to children can be very complex, a significant amount of time can be spent drafting and/or litigating a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interests. Generally, the following factors are considered when determining a parenting plan:
- The relative strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent (this is the most important factor);
- The agreements of the parents, provided they were entered into knowingly and voluntarily;
- Each parent’s past and potential for future performance of parenting functions including whether a parent has taken greater responsibility for performing parenting functions relating to the daily needs of the child;
- 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 as the child’s involvement with his or her physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities; to express reasoned and independent preferences as to his/her residential schedule; and
- Each parent’s employment schedule.