Elements of a Parenting Plan
Understanding Parenting Plan Details
Our firm discusses parenting plans and how they outline the rights and responsibilities of both parents. When thinking about parenting plans, make sure it is clear, have considered holidays/weekends, include rights and responsibilities, and have conflict resolutions ready. We have worksheets to help you!
The word custody is becoming outdated, and parenting plans are much more common.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.
Here are four important parenting plan elements:
- First, clarity. Parenting agreements tend to break down because of vague wording and clauses. Let me give you 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. So 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 like Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day? What if on every other weekend schedule, dad’s weekend falls on Mother’s Day? We have a worksheet you should use. It will help. 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. Each parents’ rights to contact the child’s school and to obtain educational, medical and psychological records are key.
- 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 into court.