Unmarried parents have some unique challenges. Sometimes, they are able to work together to overcome these outside of the court system.

In many cases, however, the family might need some stronger rules in order to secure the interests of both parents. The law could provide a framework in the form of a unique parenting plan.

Determining parental duties

Deciding who has certain responsibilities and privileges is a formal process. As you can see on the Washington Courts website, there are many possible steps in the procedure of petitioning the court for custody, visitation and support.

The link above shows an exhaustive list of forms you might use as you seek an official decision on your case. However, there is a significant prerequisite.

Deciding parentage

In order to allocate parental responsibilities, the court has to make sure that the parties involved are legal parents. In many cases involving unmarried parents, this involves an acknowledgment.

Typically, this relates to the father. The father would acknowledge that he is a parent, providing the legal basis to make a plan that lets him visit and allows him to make significant decisions. It could also compel him to support the child.

Creating a plan

These plans are typically more effective and are easier to create if there is some level of agreement between the parents. It is similar to other family law procedures, such as child custody during divorce — working together through mediation or arbitration tends to be faster, cheaper and less stressful for everybody involved. It would also help you create a plan that will truly benefit your children, in most cases.

Completing the process

Your parenting plan focuses on the best interest of your children. However, to gain the support of the court, these plans must also comply with all of the technical and procedural requirements while following the proper schedule.