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Child Custody FAQ

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What Are Elements of a Parenting Plan?

Massachusetts Custody Lawyers Explaining Parenting Plan Details

The word custody is becoming outdated, and parenting plans are much more common. Parents need to have parenting plans—parenting agreements—that outline the responsibilities and the rights of both parents and the children. People want to know what elements will help make a well-drafted parenting plan. When thinking about parenting plans, make sure it is clear, that you have considered holidays/weekends, that it includes rights and responsibilities, and that you have conflict resolutions ready. We have worksheets to help you!

Here are four important parenting plan elements:

  • First, clarity. Parenting agreements tend to break down because of vague wording and clauses. Here's an example. If it were to say primary custody to mother and alternate weekends to father, when do the alternate weekends begin? Fathers are going to assume it is Thursday night and moms are going to think it is Saturday morning. If it’s not clear, you’re going to have a problem.
  • You also want to have considerations for holidays and vacations. What happens on those three-day weekends? What if on every other weekend schedule, dad’s weekend falls on Mother’s Day? Consider using odd and even years for holidays that you want to rotate and get the worksheet on the website on vacations and holidays so it will help you and your former spouse work out the parenting plan.
  • You want to include rights and responsibilities. For example, each parents’ rights to obtain educational, medical and psychological records.
  • Something should be in there that there’s no changing of last names and no overnight visitors in the presence of the children during the first year of divorce. You want to make sure that you address exchanges and transportation, extracurricular activities, and have a clause in there that kicks in when you need conflict resolution so that you’re not always running to court.
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