Some states require divorcing
couples to file a parenting plan. Even if your state does not require
a parenting plan, it is a good idea to develop at least a simple
Divorce is not the most
damaging thing for children. It is the constant bickering and conflict
that creates stress for your children. A parenting plan will ensure
that your relationship after the divorce will be as stress free as
Different states have different
requirements dealing with parenting plans. You can find more
information about what your state requires here:
Parenting Classes by state.
A parenting plan removes the legal
jargon and states, in plain English, how the parents will work
together to create a parenting plan that is best for the children.
What To Include In Your Parenting
The first thing you'll want to
decide in your parenting plan is the children's residential.
(Residential schedule is different from visitation)
Which parent's home be considered
the children's primary residence? Keep in mind that many parents
successfully work out a parenting plan in which children do spend 50%
of their time with each parent. Your parenting plan should include
which residence is the primary residence.
Will the residential schedule be
the same every week of the month?
Will there be alternating weekends?
Your parenting plan should include
how you will schedule visitations.
Will there be regular weekend
visits? How often? For how long? From 5PM Friday to 5PM Sunday?
Will there also be regular midweek
visits? If so, how often? For how long?
Working together, you can create a
schedule that works for both parents.
Make sure your parenting plan is
consistent. This is best for the children.
You'll want to include in your
parenting plan how your children will spend each holiday during the
Will the parenting plan holiday
schedule stay the same each year or will you alternate major holidays
between even and odd years?
Remember to consider the children
in your parenting plan holiday schedule. They should grow up with
memories of spending major holidays with both parents.
Many parents choose to alternate
major holiday's. Other parents are satisfied with one parent changing
the date of the celebration.
Include special occasions in your
Your parenting plan should include
Where will the kids spend summer
break / winter break / spring break?
Include how the children will get
from one home to the other in your parenting plan.
Your parenting plan can also cover
school holidays that take place on Mondays or Fridays.
Other things to consider in your
How will you handle occasional
changes to the schedule? Can you reschedule?
Can the kids phone or email the
other parent at any time?
Who has the authority to make
Will one parent be responsible for
major decision making, or will both be involved?
If either of you has to hire a
babysitter, will the other parent have the option of filling in for
How often the parenting plan will
be reviewed and updated if needed.
What happens if if either parent relocates?
(Often parenting plans will be rewritten if either parent moves a
certain distance away.)
How will you handle contact with
grandparents and other extended family members?
How should communications between
parents be handled. (some parents deal with each other via email or
phone rather than face to face.)
Remember to build in some
flexibility. Your children will have school plays, sleepovers and
other unexpected events that can cause havoc if not included in the
parenting plan. Prepare for them in advance.
These are the most common items in
a parenting plan. Your parenting plan can be as simple or as complex
as needed, but the above items should be included in all parenting
We offer a sample
parenting plan in our advanced parenting class.
You can also find sample parenting plans on the internet. One plan
that we like is from the
Judicial Court of Idaho.
Divorce on Children