A parenting plan is one of the most critical documents parents create after a divorce. It can also be one of the more confusing and contentious agreements, which is why it can be helpful to know what is typically in them if you are a divorcing parent.
Crucial elements of a standard parenting plan
Broadly, a parenting plan outlines rules of conduct for parents who share custody. Some of the standard details or components of a parent-created parenting plan include:
- Regular parenting schedules
- Holiday and school break custody arrangements
- Summer schedules
- Rules for virtual or telephone parenting access
- Information on where and when parents will exchange custody
- Guidelines for acceptable parenting behaviors
- Guidance for emergencies and temporary situations
- Parental relocation out of state
- Rules for mediating disputes
These terms must reflect the child’s best interests. Often, these are terms that parents agree on and design together.
When parents cannot agree
In most cases, parents work together to create a parenting plan and agree on all the terms. They may work with professionals like attorneys and mediators if they encounter any conflict.
However, this is not always possible. If you and your ex cannot agree on parenting rules and conduct, the case can wind up in front of a judge.
The courts will include the same standard components of a plan; they will also make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. However, the decisions they reach are not necessarily what parents would choose.
Making the plan work for you and your kids
Whatever a parenting plan ultimately looks like, parents must comply with it or risk facing serious penalties. If you violate the rules in your plan, you could face legal and financial penalties, and you risk jeopardizing your child’s welfare.
If you run into issues carrying out your duties or sticking to the conditions of your parenting agreement, you can discuss with your attorney your options for modifying the custody arrangements.
Whether you are creating a parenting agreement, preparing for court or seeking a modification, it is crucial to stay focused on solutions that preserve your parenting rights and protect your child.