The children are most adversely affected in the never-ending tussle of divorced or separated couples. The divorce phase can be stressful. However, it’s in your children’s best interest to develop a parenting plan to detail their upbringing. Drafting a parenting plan is the initial step to child custody arrangements and should be treated with utmost caution. This post delves into the best practices for creating a parenting plan and using it.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a written agreement that describes how a divorced or separated couple will raise their kids. The parenting plan safeguards your kids’ interests until they achieve emotional and financial independence. The guidelines of the parenting plan may not broach every issue but serve as a blueprint to prevent any dissensions from escalating into full-fledged conflicts.
What is a Parenting Plan Template?
A parenting plan template is a customizable fillable parenting plan that the co-parents fill with their arrangements for child-rearing. Parenting plan templates form the framework of child custody arrangements. Once the couple mutually consents to the template guidelines, they can finalize it to form a parenting plan agreement.
Note: Every couple’s and child’s needs are unique. A parenting plan template is not a one-size-fits-all plan, and therefore you should decisively choose the template that best matches your current situation.
Parenting Plan Templates & Examples
When to Use a Parenting Plan Template?
Marriage counselors and divorce attorneys generally advise couples going through a separation or divorcing phase to have in place a parenting plan. It is not mandatory but ensures both do not neglect the children’s emotional and financial needs.
Use the parenting plan to prevent conflicts with your spouse regarding your children’s upbringing. Include all the essential elements to ensure the plan serves as a comprehensive guide on co-parenting your children.
Essential Elements of a Parenting Plan Template
Parenting plan templates vary significantly depending on the interests in the arrangement. Despite the difference, a good template should contain the following essentials at the minimum:
- Custody arrangements
- Holiday and vacation schedules
- Medical care and insurance
- Child support expenses
- Financial responsibility
- Decision making
- Education considerations
- Child safety considerations
- Parent contact
Remember, a parenting plan is a roadmap to handling your kid’s upbringing. The essentials are only pointers, and you can include other information pivotal to safeguarding your children’s interests.
How to Write a Parenting Plan
There’s a lot to consider when drafting a parenting plan. Follow our easy-to-do steps when creating your plan to ensure both parents have a clear understanding of their expectations:
1) Write the child and parent information
Fill in the legal names of the parents and children. Include the contact information and the date of birth as well.
2) Detail the custody arrangement
From the different types of custody plans available, choose one. You can opt for:
- Sole legal custody where one parent is the chief decision-maker.
- Joint legal custody where both parents make the decisions on mutual consent.
- Sole physical custody where one parent decides where the child should live.
- Joint physical custody where the couple can decide with whom the child should live.
3) Include visitation schedules
If one parent has sole physical custody, write down how each parent will have access to the child, when, and how long. Remember to note down how to handle schedules that coincide with the school’s calendar. Also include provisions about where the exchange will happen, either a neutral ground or one parent can drop off the child at the other’s place.
4) Include special consideration
In your co-parenting plan, state how you will handle holidays, birthday parties, and custom family vacations that concurrently occur with a parent’s scheduled activities for the child. Also, detail whether both parents will attend a child’s birthday party and if family members are allowed at it.
Note: A parenting plan is not set in stone. You will have to amend it as your children grow.
5) Note down financial obligations
Determine how you will split child-related expenses such as medical care, school fee, extracurricular activity fee, and holiday fee. Also, note down who will take the tax benefits. Also include child support details and the amount.
6) Include other rights and responsibilities
Include all other co-parenting responsibilities for each parent. Detail how each parent will handle urgent decisions, medical care, attending parent-teacher meetings, and religion and safety concerns.
Tip: It is best to seek legal advice to avoid including unbearable responsibilities that the other party may not be able or willing to undertake. Also, the attorney will help you include all the necessary rights to serve your children’s needs.
Tips for Writing a Parenting Plan Template
- Ensure legal compliance. If the child lives in different states, the jurisdictional purviews will vary. Tailor the plan to meet each state’s legal requirements.
- Put your children’s interests first. Sometimes engage the children, especially older kids, to determine what they want. Alternatively, make logical decisions on what constitutes their best interests.
- Consider special and statutory holidays and vacations. Ideally, the child should spend Mother’s Day with the mother and Father’s Day with the father.
When preparing a parenting plan, you may want to shelve the arguments with your spouse for a while. Sit down and develop resolutions and guidelines that ensure your children will develop without lacking both parents’ love.
A parenting plan is a roadmap that details how a separated or divorced couple will handle their child’s upbringing. It prevents conflicts that have adverse psychological effects on the child.
Yes, the court advocates for both parents to present a parenting plan. Discuss how best to raise your child with your spouse before drafting the plan.
A parenting plan is an arrangement the couple initiates and makes to safeguard the child’s interests. In contrast, a parenting order is a court-mandated order where the court decides how to raise your children.
A co-parenting plan should include both parties’ legal and physical custody provisions and financial responsibilities.
A parental arrangement form is a legal document containing all the guidelines or a parenting plan arrangement.
Divorces are stressful. By drafting a parenting plan, prevent the stress from spilling over to your kids. Amicably decide how to safeguard your child’s interests, put it down in writing and sign it according to state regulations.