As we approach the January 1, 2008, implementation date for HB 369, the Georgia Shared Parenting Act, we are mindful of the new requirements for parenting plans in Georgia divorce and other Georgia family law cases involving custody (joint or shared) of minor children. The 9th Judicial Administrative District Office of Dispute Resolution, covering the courts in most of North Central and Northeast Georgia (Superior Courts of Cherokee County, Fannin County, Forsyth County, Gilmer County, Gwinnett County, Habersham County, Hall County, Lumpkin County, Pickens County, Rabun County, Stephens County, Towns County, Union County, and White County), has prepared a helpful pamphlet called “What’s Best for My Child? (Ages and Stages of Children). You can find it here or it is included below.
When creating a Georgia parenting plan, the age, needs, and personality of each child must be considered. The amount of time a parent spends with a child is in no way a measure of how much they love their child. You will both continue to be parents. Children struggle with changes and need support on how to cope with them. One of the biggest changes for children is having parents who live in two different homes.
Things to Consider When Developing a Parenting Plan
- Conflict between parents makes it hard for children to adjust to their new
situations. The greater the conflict, the harder it is for the children.
- Children’s needs come first.
- Children and all family members have a right to be safe.
- Life may be less complicated for parents and children when there are
- Many children do better with a “home base” with one parent, and frequent
contact with the other parent, although other arrangements can also work
- As children get older, they usually can handle longer periods away from
- Each child is unique. Consider temperament, personality, and needs
when creating the parenting plan.
- All children have a right to love, care, and commitment from their parents.
- Detailed parenting plans may be more useful for some parents.
- Consistency and predictability are important for most children.
Signs of distress:
(especially if it goes on
for a long time)
To increase understanding of the difference between fantasy and reality
To deepen attachments with other people (parents, teachers, etc.)
To notice gender differences
To believe in fairness
To be reminded that the divorce/separation is not their fault
Structured and consistent time
with each parent if appropriate
Parental support at school and
Support for exploring and expanding interests and relationships
Physical complaints (e.g., stomach aches, headaches, etc.)
Expression of anger and behavior problems with parent most connected to
Bed wetting, baby talk
To feel good about
relationships and their physical development
To develop and test values and beliefs
To be connected to their school and community
Consistency and predictability in
schedules and routines
Parent support in school and sports activities
Encouragement and permission to love both parents
Reminders that the
divorce/separation is not their fault
More open communication with their parents
Loss of interest in friends and other relationships
Become “too good”
Depression and extreme rebellion
To develop greater
independence and separation from family
To develop a sense of moral values (these may change)
To express resistance and rebelliousness while forming their identity (much like two
To be naturally self-centered
Flexibility and understanding from parents regarding their
time with friends and activities
Reminders that the
Divorce/separation is not their fault
Many teens want a say in the parenting plan
Positive role models
Reasonable, firm, and fair guidelines
Excessive anger and
Trying to be “too good”
Difficulty with school or
Alcohol and drug use,
Gardner, Howard, Developmental Psychology. Little, Brown & Co. (1982).
Garrity, Carla B. and Mitchell A. Baris, Caught in the Middle. Lexington Books (1994).
Hetherington, E. Mavis and Ross D. Parke, Child Psychology: A Contemporary Viewpoint. McGraw Hill (1979)
Lyster, Mimi E., Child Custody: Building Parenting Agreements that Work (3rd Ed.). Nolo Press (Jan. 2000).
Stahl, Philip M., Parenting After Divorce: A Guide to Resolving Conflicts and Meeting Your Children’s Needs. Impact Publishers
State of Colorado, Office of the State Court Administrator, Parenting Plan: http:www.courts.state.co.us/scao/scao/formsdom.htm.