I'm going to court this week. My daughter is two years old, and her father hasn't seen her in five months. He's only seen her a few times in the last year and a half, and never calls to check on her, etc. She'll be terrified if she has to go on unsupervised visitations with him, since she doesn't know him. My lawyer asked me to come up with an idea of a Parenting Plan I could live with if the judge awards him joint custody. What's a reasonable graduated parenting plan?
State/Country relating to question: Missouri
Nothing, since we're just going to court this week.
Hello. There are a number of approaches you can take, but you can generally expect that the court will favor getting the father involved in his child's life. Obviously, starting off with a supervised approach would be ideal for you and that would include picking a neutral third-party you two can agree on to provide the supervision. You can suggest that the supervision be granted for a certain number of months, pending adjustment by your daughter. You can also suggest that the duration of the visits be limited, to give your daughter time to adjust. One other thing that tends to happen is that the parent is awarded visitation and then fails to follow through. You can keep that in mind when drafting the plan and remember that you can always come back and ask for a change to the plan if and when dad fails to adhere to the plan's terms. Six months is probably a good test period to ask for, requesting supervised supervision, starting with shorter visits - maybe a few hours at a time - and then graduating up to longer visits and then eventually overnights. The court will most likely favor a Joint Custody arrangement in the long-term, so it's usually a good idea to be cooperative and present a reasonable plan. Dad can always not adhere to the plan, which gives you ammunition to come back later and ask for a modification, all the while making you look good for being cooperative and attempting to negotiate a reasonable arrangement.
Practicing family law attorney in multiple jurisdictions
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