When the court awards parents joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both, the parents share physical custody and decision-making authority. Joint custody differs from sole custody where one parent makes all decisions and is typically locked into honoring a specific visitation schedule for the other parent’s parent time.
A parenting plan can help parents who are awarded joint custody specify the custody schedule and many major decisions in advance or set the process for making decisions that are not already made or are unanticipated. In Utah, when a parent asks the court to enter a joint custody award, the court will require them to present a proposed parenting plan to the court. The parent must also certify that he or she proposed the plan in good faith.
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A parenting plan can address nearly any subject related to the children. Some common topics addressed in parenting plans include the following:
- How to make future decisions regarding the children
- Who makes what types of decisions or who has the final say
- What happens when parents disagree about a decision
- How parents should communicate when discussing the children
- What days or holidays each parent has the children
- How to agree to changes or deviations to the plan
- What will happens when a parent moves
- How the parents will access school and medical records
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