What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is something that divorcing or separating parents set up together, with the help of a mediator or the court. It sets out where and with whom the children will spend time and how decisions will be made for the children. A parenting plan can also be called a “custody and visitation agreement.”

Timeshare

One aspect of the parenting plan is the timeshare – when the kids will be with each parent. However, the timeshare also needs to cover things like:

  • Who is providing transportation to and from a visit?
  • The kids’ school and activity schedules
  • Transportation for school
  • Transportation for activities
  • What happens if one of the kids is sick?
  • What happens if there’s a school holiday?
  • Who can transport the kids, other than a parent?
  • How will the parent who doesn’t have custody stay in touch during that time? Phone calls? Facetime or Skype? How often? What times? Can the kids call the other parent?
  • Holidays
  • Vacations
  • Right of first refusal. If one parent is going to put the child in childcare for longer than a specified period (outside of care for school or work for the parent), the other parent may want the option to spend that time with the child instead.
  • What happens if a visit gets canceled? Will there be “make up time?” How will that be scheduled?

Decision Making

The other aspect of a parenting plan is who makes decisions and how they are made. You will need to consider:

  • Will both parents make decisions about the kids? This will include things like medical care (physical and mental health), education, and religion.
  • Will both parents make decisions about all aspects of the kids’ lives? For example, one parent may be more religious, while the other isn’t as focused on that area. The more religious parent might make religious decisions in that case.
  • How will decisions be reached? Some parents prefer to discuss things over email, while others might like to have a phone call.
  • What happens if the parents can’t agree? Some people prefer to go to a mediator, child therapist or parenting coach, or other third party before they go to court for a decision.
  • Who can access the kids’ information? This includes medical, school, and activities.
  • Travel with the kids – this includes out of county, out of state, and out of the country.
  • What activities the kids will participate in and how they’ll be chosen. This is especially important where an activity will impact a parent’s time with the child.

These are some things you’ll need to consider as you go about creating a parenting plan. If domestic violence, substance abuse, or other issues are part of your matter, you’ll need to be sure to consider those in setting up your plan. Plans can be set up so that the parents don’t interact directly or other accommodations are made to ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy.

If you have questions or want help setting up a parenting plan, call Romanovska Law.

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