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Parenting Plan & the court order
Hello Dads

question - how do I legalise a parenting plan ? 

I have written a 5 pager parenting plan along the same lines as the template provided by CAFCASS ( communication, financial matters, Education, living and childcare arrangement, and I have added couple of section myself such as 'cultural and values' etc)

I have sent this plan to the mother as my set of proposals. While I'm waiting for the response for agreement, disagreement etc, I'd like to press ahead with producing the parenting plan at my next hearing where I'm self representing. Subject to the review by the judge, I'd like to get the plan all formal and a court order end of the day ?

Hi SeanS,

I was asked to do a parenting plan initially when receiving my court papers with my first hearing, guess what? I wasn't once asked for the plan either by the courts or Cafcass however it is handy to have one. What I did was basically used my parenting plan as my "draft order" and my solicitor went through mine at my last hearing to use the detailed info I wanted on my DO/PP and adapted that to my final court order. If you have a good solicitor they will most likely omit certain irrelevant parts as mine did as courts often don't like to micro manage every fine detail. I was told by my solicitor that in the 8 years she's attended 100's of family court hearings and could count on one hand the amount of times it was requested. I'm guessing as the courts like parents to settle things between themselves (which always staggers me as it's often one parent being unreasonable that brings matters to court).

My ex didn't even bother to prepare one so really she got caught out on the day as I had one to use and she clearly hadn't a clue what sort of content to put in, massively worked in my favour how unprepared she was. It would have been better to maybe in hindsight have held onto the plan you've sent her as you're not required to exchange them to my knowledge unless ordered to do so. The advantage however of doing so gives you the heads up as to what your ex has issue with and gives you chance before your next hearing to come up with an alternative solution.

Re the legalised part - if you did agree a "plan" to legalise it you would have to get this drawn up by a solicitor as a "consent" order if you can both agree and get it sealed by the court. If that happen's you'll save loads of time negotiating or at a contested hearing, fingers crossed your ex will play ball.
perfect, thanks Astroman. I did ponder about giving a copy of parenting plan to ex, which I'm sure has caught her off-guarded when she had a copy, but I was obliged to share my position with the ex ( and to get her response to my proposals) as court made directions on those lines from fof hearing. I'm in charge of updating the court bundle too so I wanted to do everything 'by the book' this time, just so I come across someone who follow the rules Smile
So the directions hearing (section 7) is in a week's time. I'm suppose to finalize the court bundle by tomorrow, BUT i have not received any response from ex about my proposal for arrangements until now? Now it seems unlikely I will get anything back from her at all until the hearing day.

Not sure what do I make of this OR judge will make of this non-response especially court expected both the parties to make their position & proposals exchanged with respect to children future contact.
Sounds par for the course - her not giving you anything. If you're wanting a parenting plan put into an order there are two ways. The first way is - by negotiation at the first hearing. ie it's thrashed out until there is agreement, and then that is put into a consent order and sealed by the courts - a note about that later. The second way is, as Astroman says, to turn your parenting plan into a draft order, and take that along on the day - so the actual order wording is all there, written up, for agreeing and disagreeing points - with a view to that draft order being used as a consent order. It really comes down to how likely it is you can reach agreement. Sounds like ex is saving things up till the day and not wanting to share anything with you.

The note about a consent order. If you did reach agreement for a consent order at first hearing, I would suggest pushing for having it written up and sealed on the day. Often things are all agreed and it's left for solicitors to draw up the order later, then both sides approve it and it's sent for sealing. But dirty tricks abound there and they tinker with the wording or bits aren't agreed after court. And its not enforceable until it's sealed (speaking from bitter experience).

It is one reason taking a draft order is a good idea - if the order wording (based on your parenting plan) is agreed it can just be sealed on the day.
Thanks Charlie, I eventually got some response from ex...2 main components from the response.

1. Ex not happy with the findings from section 7 ( where report said no evidence of abuse and no welfare issues concerning father to children). SO ex decided to 'recycle' the allegations in her response to parenting plan, which is to be part of the trial bundle, and asking Judge to order some freaking course for correcting behavior.
I have had finding of fact where none of her 26 allegations were proven except the one I admitted myself, so I will keenly watch how she is going to convince the judge to order a course !

2. She has in theory agreed to CAFCASS recommendation for my contact with children albeit LOT slower and LOT delayed and LOT of piece meal !

3. Although CAFCASS recommendation entails 70:30 in favour of mother, they also recommended 'time spent with father and lives with mother' which I'm going challenge and be willing to take it all the way to the final hearing and beyond. I'm asking for lives with both the parents.

Directions hearing later this week...I converted the parenting plan to a draft order...hopefully it will be a tick exercise for the judge ! I would hope for the sake of my children.
Re Point 3 : I also had this, as you say stick to your guns if you want lives with! Why can't a child live with both parents? I have no idea why cafcass never seem to recommend lives with orders.
no iota of doubt in my mind about wanting children to live with me so, yes Smile

Question - The "draft court order", do I need to share it with ex at some point ? if yes when would be the right time ? ( at the hearing or earlier ) Thanks
Share it at the hearing, better to put her on the spot in my view as they panic and generally feel overwhelmed by it. Worked a treat on my ex!
I had a detailed draft order at my final hearing, with everything in it I wanted, even a couple of specific issues, and recitals regarding homework, and other matters. It was used as the document for negotiation so points were agreed/disagreed and the paper draft order was amended there and then at the hearing in pen, so it was a record of what was agreed. It then needed retyping up. Even then the other side refused to accept some things after the hearing and it took me over a month to get it agreed and sealed and I had to compromise further. So my advice is - if you have a solicitor - get them to take their laptop with it on, amend it on the day, and get it sealed on the day. As well as the paper copy to amend on the day.

That is assuming agreement is reached. Which sounds unlikely at the moment! If it isn't and the hearing goes ahead, you can have the draft order attached to your statement. Which is what I did. Last line of statement said - I respectfully request the court to make an order as per the attached draft order. Makes it a lot easier for them!

With parenting plans - a Judge will look at both and if yours sounds reasonable, and sensible and hers sounds outrageous, he is more likely to make an order based on yours.

I would suggest asking advice about her bringing up allegations that have been dismissed, as a vexatious thing and ask for her request to be dismissed.

So no don't give her a copy of the draft order - that is part of your submission to the court and for negotiation on the day.

Ask for 5 nights out of 14 lives with both parents. Kind of fits with Cafcass recommendation (slightly more than 70/30). That would be every other week-end Friday from school to Monday return to school and one midweek night. I would suggest asking for alternate Mondays and Thursdays, so you don't go more than 3 or 4 days without seeing child. I have that. So the Thursday follows my week-end, then the Monday, then the week-end again.

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