a man holding the hand of his little girl while on a walk through the tall grass. this image is being used to convey the importance of having a parenting plan in place and why ogborne law, phoenix family law firm, focuses on ensuring that you and your ex-spouse create a parenting plan that focuses on the success of the child.
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

What You Need to Know about Parenting Plans

Life doesn’t always happen as we’d like but we find a way to make it work.

That’s how it is when you are divorcing and have minor children. You and your ex-spouse have to find a way to continue to care for your shared children.

You need a parenting plan for your new family so that you and your ex-spouse understand parenting roles and expectations.

Whether you like it or not, a parenting plan is part of a separation agreement. It’s a written document detailing how you and your ex-spouse are going to raise your shared children. The agreement will include:

  • Living arrangements and parenting schedules
  • How custody is to be shared
  • Frequency of parental visits
  • Religious upbringing
  • What happens if one parent moves to a new state
  • Childcare or babysitting arrangements
  • Vacation time with each parent
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Extended family visitation or other special requests

Also called a custody agreement, a parenting plan is specific enough for parents to each understand the guidelines but flexible enough to make changes as needed. It should reflect what is best for the child, not what’s best for the parents.

Why do you need a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is necessary to define parenting roles and expectations for the new family. When there are conflicts between parents related to the children, the parenting plan should resolve questions or provide opportunity to make changes that work better.

It holds the parents responsible for what is in the best interest of the children, not what’s in their own best interests. All too often we see parents lose sight of their children in the midst of divorce. A parenting plan helps couples remember who their focus should be – the children.

How Parenting Plans Help Parents

Revisiting the parenting plan, especially in times of dispute, is an important part of managing your new family. Your ex-spouse may want to switch weekends with the kids which is fine as long as you agree to the terms. When it becomes confrontational, you can refer to and abide by the plan.

While having a parenting plan doesn’t mean parenting is easier, it provides boundaries and expectations for both parents. It is the hope that you can work with your ex-spouse for the sake of the children using the parenting plan as your guide.

Remember, it’s all about the kids

At the end, the one thing that is important to highlight, is that an effective parenting plan focuses on the long-term success of the kids – not the convenience of the parent.

This may not always be easy to agree upon but it’s worth the effort. Your kids will thank you.