What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a legal document, filed with a divorce decree, that outlines aspects of the co-parenting relationship after divorce. At a minimum, the parenting plan outlines the scheduled time each parent spends with the kids. It can include details about drop-off times and procedures, what to do when the schedule changes, and how to handle holidays. The parenting plan also includes designations on physical and legal custody. There are many additional items that can be included in the parenting plan - it can be as detailed or general as the parents choose.

Many states require a designation on physical and legal custody. Physical custody addresses who the children live with at any time. Regardless of the amount of time the children spend with each parent, if there is shared parenting time, the designation is often joint physical custody. Legal custody is the ability for parents to make important decisions on the children's behalf. Such decisions often revolve around medical, religious and educational decisions. If parents have joint legal custody, they can both make these types of important decisions on behalf of the children.

In addition to details about the parenting schedule, the parenting plan often includes a right of first refusal. This is an agreement that allows the on-duty parent to call the off-duty parent first if they need child care during their parenting time. The right of first refusal could depend on the number of ocnsecutive hours the on-duty parent will be unavailable or whether the child care needed is during waking hours.

Other areas that are often addressed in a parenting plan include:

  • Introduction of significant others to the children
  • Ability to travel with or without the kids
  • Interactions with extended family
  • Communication with the other parent when in one parent's home
  • Introdcution of technology
  • Ideas about extra-curricular activities
  • Consequence of one parent moving outside of school district, city, or state

There are many other elements that can be included in a parenting plan - it is a document that is drafted by the parents and can be adjusted to meet the parents' needs.

If you would like to learn more about parenting plans and how to come to resolutions in the best interest of your children, please contact Kimberly.