Why unmarried parents need a parenting plan

On Behalf of | Aug 26, 2022 | Blog, Child Custody

A decision to separate can raise complex issues for you and your partner, even if you are unmarried. For example, those who share children in New Hampshire must consider how they will co-parent despite not having legal obligations to each other.

A parenting plan is essential for ensuring your children’s welfare and enforcing your rights.

What is a parenting plan?

A New Hampshire parenting plan defines each parent’s rights and responsibilities. Although it is standard when obtaining a divorce with children, you may not realize that it is also essential when unmarried parents separate.

Unmarried fathers must establish legal paternity before contributing to a parenting plan; otherwise, they may forfeit their parental rights entirely. A parenting plan ensures parents’ accountability  and must include details about how parents will address various matters impacting their minor children, including:

  • Full-time living arrangements
  • Parental visitation
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Financial support
  • Dispute resolution

Ideally, parents work together to complete a plan that prioritizes their children and jointly submit it to the court.

How does a parenting plan affect your rights?

Although a parenting plan promotes your minor children’s interests, it also protects your parental rights. For example, it allows the court to enforce your right to receive financial assistance from a non-custodial parent or visitation with your children. After parents submit a plan to the family court, a judge determines its validity and one parent may not override its contents or infringe on the other’s rights. Changes require drafting and submitting a new plan for the court’s approval.

Co-parenting is complex under any circumstances but can be particularly challenging when unmarried parents choose to separate.