Common sense and fairness are the primary underpinnings of any caretaking plan. The one which follows here was devised to accommodate two professionally employed parents, but it can be revised to meet your family's personal or unique needs.
The object of providing the court with a caretaking plan which has been stipulated to by the divorcing parties is to avoid the cost, aggravation, and anxiety of letting either a judge, a family-service officer, or some other court-appointed entity who does not know you, your spouse, or your children make decisions about the care of your children.
Clearly you and your spouse are
at several levels to make such determinations regarding your family.
This is written as if the Father has custody.
It may be rewritten as if the Mother has custody.
1. The Father shall have the legal and physical custody of the minor children, Janey Doe, whose date of birth are is __________- , 199_, and Johnny Doe, whose date of birth are is ___________-.
2. The Mother shall have the following rights to visitation and society and companionship with the child:
ii. In the event that the Mother's weekend falls on a three-day weekend, the minor child shall be returned with clean clothes by the Mother to the home of the Father at 5:00 P.M. on Monday.
iii. The weekend visitation schedule will be as set out in paragraphs 2(a)(i) and 2(a)(ii) with the following exceptions: if the child is invited to a birthday party, or when older, has a Brownie or a Girl Scout meeting or an outing, has a class (e.g., piano, dancing, horseback-riding, swimming), has a preference to be with certain friends on a weekend day. In other words, the parents must respect the reasonable requests of the child as she grows older and makes friendships and has other demands on her time. It is impossible to predict in this Stipulation all the scenarios which are possible as the child grows older; nevertheless, the overriding consideration must be that variances in the schedule must be dictated by consideration of that which is in the best interest of the child.
ii. Commencing in 1995, the Mother shall have the child every other Christmas school-vacation period beginning with the end of the last school day through said school-vacation period and ending at 6:00 P.M. on the day preceding the resumption of school.
iii. Commencing in 1996, the Mother shall have the child every other February school-vacation period beginning with the end of the last school day through said school-vacation period and ending at 6:00 P.M. on the day preceding the resumption of school.
iv. Commencing in 1995, the Mother shall have the child every other Spring school-vacation period beginning with the end of the last school day through said school-vacation period and ending at 6:00 P.M. on the day preceding the resumption of school.
ii. The Mother shall have the child on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 1993, 1994, and 1995. During the years when the child is in grades K-12, in the years the Father has the child for Christmas vacation and the Father and child are not going away for the vacation period, the Mother shall have the child on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. When the Mother has the child for the Christmas holiday, she shall pick up the child at the residence of the Father on Christmas Eve at 6:00 P.M. and return the child Christmas Day at 6:00 P.M. unless the Holiday falls on a weekend when the Mother has the visitation with the child; however, the Mother shall not enter the residence of the Father.
iii. The Mother shall have the child on Easter Day in 1994 and 1995. Once the child is in grades K-12: in the years the Father has the child for Easter vacation and the Father and child are not going away for the vacation period, the Mother shall have the child on Easter Day. When the Mother has the child for the Easter holiday, she shall pick up the child at the residence of the Father at 10:00 A.M. on Easter Day and return the child Easter Day at 6:00 P.M. unless the Holiday falls on a weekend when the Mother has the visitation with the child; however, the Mother shall not enter the residence of the Father.
ii. In the event that the child attends a summer camp, which is likely when the child reaches the age of 7, in 1997, the one week selected by the Mother for vacation will be one of the weeks before or after the summer-camp schedule. In other words, the Mother can choose a week during the period between the day after the close of school and the day before the first day of camp or between the day after the end of camp until the day before the opening day of school.
i. After the minor child is in elementary school, the Mother shall have the child on the child's birthday every other year from 4:00 P.M. until 9:00 P.M. on said birthday. During the alternate years, the Mother shall be allowed to visit the child for two hours in the late afternoon or evening, depending on the Mother's work schedule.
ii. The Mother shall have the child on Mother's Day from 9 A.M. until 7 P.M.
iii. The Father shall have the child on Father's Day. If Father's Day falls on Mother's weekend, the child is to be with Father on Father's Day.
ii.School Vacation Periods shall take precedence over and supersede Weekends and Religious Holidays
h. Emergency Access: Both parties shall at all reasonable times advise the other where the child can be reached in the event of an emergency. Neither party shall refuse or neglect to deliver the child to the other, or refuse or neglect to inform the other of his or her address while the child is in his or her care.
i. Alterations to Plan: Nothing contained in the within visitation schedule shall prevent the Mother or the Father from conferring with the other and rearranging dates and times of visitation; however, any changes shall be by mutual agreement only.
j. Father's Obligation: The Father shall arrange to have the child reasonably ready for all visitations with the Mother and shall notify the Mother as soon as possible of any circumstances which would prohibit or limit the exercise of any visitation rights by the Mother. The Mother shall give reasonable advance notice of any changes in visitation scheduled in order to allow for reasonable planning and scheduling by the Father and child.
3. Child Support
ii. It is the parties' intention that the Mother accept more financial responsibility for the child increase as her income increases and as the cost of raising the child increases, for instance, for summer camp, special lessons, clothing, college, etcetera.
iii. The increase in child support shall increase proportionately with the increase in the Mother's income. For the purposes of accountability, the Mother is required to give to the Father a copy of her Internal Revenue Service tax return within two weeks of filing it every year.
iv.To provide for child support in the event of the Mother's death before the child's Emancipation, the Mother shall maintain a Life Insurance policy on herself with the Johnny Doe Trust as the named Beneficiary until Johnny Doe reaches Emancipation.
4. To teach the Mother that financial responsibility for the child is as much an element of Motherhood as is the pleasure of enjoying the companionship of the child and welcoming the child into her birth family, the Mother shall maintain health insurance for the child.
5. The Mother shall have the names of the child's pediatrician and other health care professionals so that the child can have continuity of medical care in case the child is in need of emergency medical care while visiting with the Mother. In other words, the Mother as well as the Father shall have authority to authorize emergency medical care and treatment for the child.
6.Emancipation of the child under the within Stipulation all be deemed to take place upon the first of the following events to occur:
b. Graduation from four (4) years of higher education; however in no event shall child support be paid beyond the child's 23d birthday
c.Attainment of age 18
d.Entry into the military services
e.The child is no longer residing with the custodial parent
f.Marriage of the child
g.Engaging in full-time permanent employment after the age of 18, but not including summer employment during vacation periods
7. The parties acknowledge that it is in the best interests of the child to maintain an on-going, nurturing relationship with each of the parties. Therefore, neither party shall attempt, or condone any attempt, to injure or impede the respect or affection of the child for the other, but on the contrary shall at all times encourage and foster in the child respect and affection for both parents. Each party shall exert every reasonable effort to maintain free access and unhampered contact between the child and the other party, and neither shall do anything which may hamper the free and natural development of the child's love and respect for the other party.
8. In the event that either parent enters into marriage with a third party, the parties shall insure that the designations "Mother" and "Father" or any equivalent shall be used to refer to the parties hereto. Neither of the parties shall be responsible if the child on her own decides to call a future spouse of either party by one of the parental designations.
9. Neither parent shall remove the minor child from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without the consent of the other parent for any purpose other than, for example, visiting a relative who lives out of state, attending a summer camp which might be in, say, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, an outing to a beach along the coast of Maine, a day to the whaling museum in Mystic, Connecticut -- in other words, normal weekend activities in which other families regularly partake. In the event that such an activity is planned, the parent who will be taking the child on one of these normal family outings will inform the other parent of the planned excursion -- not for the purpose of obtaining consent but for the purpose of informing the other parent where the child is in case of emergency.
Miscellaneous paragraphs from an assortment of Caretaking Plans, where parents were unmarried or the child was living with the Father's mother (paternal grandmother) or with the Mother's father (maternal grandfather), where one party's family was more "monied" than the other. I've included them here for you to see that everything is possible. Only agreement is required.
10. Each parent shall have the right to telephone the minor child on any day the child is in the custody of the other parent. If the child is asleep or in the bathtub or at a friend's or relative's house or an outing with a parent, the parent who is telephoning shall merely call back at a reasonable hour when the child is awake, not in the bathtub, or home from the friend's or relative's house. If the child is not available for the phone call, the unavailability must not be made a reason for threats, intimidation, or coercion by the Mother of the Father, or a reason for moaning at the Mother by the Father.
11. Where the Mother shares a home with her birth family, which fact gives the birth family opportunity to socialize and have the companionship of the minor child, the Mother must not complain when the child's paternal grandparents or the Father's birth family have access to the child with the permission of the Father. Upon hearing that the child is to be visiting with the paternal grandparents, the Mother is absolutely not to call the Father and threaten that she is going to call the police or otherwise threaten the Father in a manner that is designed to subtly or not-so-subtly intimidate the Father or make him fearful of what the Mother will do should the Father allow the child's paternal grandparents to visit with the child.
12.Mother must also remember that the parties have never been married and are unmarried and living separate and apart from each other, and are entitled to continue to live sole and unmarried and free from the authority of or interference by the other.
13.The parties agree that the choices regarding private day school, private school, camp, college education, and religious classes shall be made on the basis of joint consultation between the parties and the child concerned, with due regard to the financial circumstances of the parties and the child's aptitudes and interests and wishes. Any dispute over choices shall be referred to a family counselor mutually chosen by the parties.
14.Any dispute over any matters in this Stipulation shall be settled by consultation with a family counselor mutually chosen by the parties.
15.Any breach of any term or terms of this Stipulation shall give either party the right to take immediate action, either in law or in equity concerning such breach. However, failure of either the Father or the Mother to insist in any instance upon the strict performance of any of the terms hereunder shall not be construed as a waiver of such term or terms for the future, and the same shall nevertheless continue in full force and effect.
16. Mother indemnifies Father from and against all debts, charges, or liabilities, and any and all reasonable attorney's fees, costs, and expenses incurred by him as a result of any breach by Mother of the provisions of this paragraph.
17. This stipulation shall be incorporated and merged into a Judgment of Paternity.
Plaintiff's Attorney Defendant's Attorney