Your Legal Rights at Work

All About Parenting Plans

by Lewis Hamilton

A parenting plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the arrangements and agreements between parents regarding custody, visitation, and responsibilities for their children after a separation or divorce. It serves as a guide for co-parenting and provides clarity on various aspects of raising children together. To find out more, read on. 

Forging an Agreement

Obtaining the necessary agreement for a parenting plan typically involves the following steps:

  1. Both parents need to engage in open and constructive communication to discuss and negotiate the terms of the parenting plan. It's essential to focus on the child's best interests and work towards reaching mutually acceptable agreements.
  2. If direct negotiations are challenging or unproductive, parents may choose to involve a professional mediator who can help facilitate discussions and assist in reaching agreements. Mediation can be a valuable tool in resolving conflicts and finding common ground.
  3. Consulting with a family law attorney is advisable to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. An attorney can provide guidance on legal requirements, review the proposed parenting plan, and help negotiate or draft the final agreement.
  4. Once the parenting plan is finalized, it may need to be submitted to the court for approval, especially if it is part of a divorce or legal separation proceeding. 

What Makes Up a Parenting Plan?

  • Custody and Visitation Schedule: The plan should specify the custody arrangement, including physical custody (where the child will primarily reside) and legal custody (decision-making authority). It should outline a detailed visitation schedule, including regular and holiday visitation, school breaks, birthdays, vacations, and any special occasions.
  • The plan should address decision-making responsibilities for important aspects of the child's life, such as education, healthcare, religion, extracurricular activities, and other significant matters. It can define joint decision-making or allocate specific decision-making authority to one or both parents.
  • The plan should establish guidelines for effective communication between parents, including methods and frequency of communication. It may address issues such as sharing information about the child's well-being, school progress, medical updates, and any significant events or changes.
  • If there is a possibility of either parent relocating, the plan should include provisions addressing how parental relocation will be handled and how it may affect custody and visitation arrangements. It may also address travel arrangements, consent requirements, and notification for out-of-state or international travel with the child.
  • The plan should outline child support arrangements, including how financial support will be provided, calculated, and managed. 

Parenting plans should be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances as children grow and family dynamics evolve. Speak to a divorce lawyer to find out more.