Elements of an Effective Parenting Plan for Divorcing Couples

There is no one size fits all parenting plan. It should be based upon the best interests of your children and what works for your family. I have created a checklist that is a good starting point for parents who are contemplating divorce or separation to address the numerous issues that need to be addressed in a parenting plan.

There is no one size fits all parenting plan. It should be based upon the best interests of your children and what works for your family. I have created a checklist that is a good starting point for parents who are contemplating divorce or separation to address the numerous issues that need to be addressed in a parenting plan.

Parenting Schedule (Research supports the concept that frequent continued contact with both parents is best for children in most situations). *

  • There is no mathematical formula that is automatically applied.
  • The question is how your child will divide their time between both homes.
  • Your child’s unique needs should be the center of any discussion.
  • 50/50 isn’t always best for the children
  • Transportation. Who, Where and When? Pick up and drop off times should be specified.
  • School District considerations
  • How will we juggle extracurricular activities, after school, or other events?
  • Will one parent return to work?
  • Do any of the children have special needs?

*Tip:  Print a paper calendar and outline the proposed schedule. I recommend doing this for an entire calendar year. (should include holidays, vacations, school breaks)

Holidays/Special Dates*  What holidays are celebrated by your family?

  • Birthdays
  • Parents Birthdays
  • Special Events (evolving)
  • Father’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Shared holidays
  • Alternated holidays

*Tip: Check dates on the calendars several years in advance. Map them out on a calendar so you get a visual of what this will look like. Check school calendars as well.

Travel and Vacations:  How much advance notice does each parent want or need to plan for vacations/travel?

  • How much vacation time will each parent have each year?
  • Will the children be required to travel?
  • Who will pay for the cost of travel?

Schedule Changes:

  • Life Happens. Flexibility is important.
  • Emergency vs. non-emergency situations.
  • Children need predictability. Schedule changes should be minimized.

Decision Making:

  • Shared/ Sole or Split
  • Education
  • Medical
  • Extracurricular

Communication:  Between parents (computer-based communication systems are recommended).

  • With the parents
  • Frequency
  • Text/Cell phone/Skype

Expenses:  Draft a budget for anticipated expenses. (e.g. orthodontia, sports, tutoring)

  • Co-Pays?
  • Shared?

Resources:

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About MickiMoran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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