What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan will consist of all orders that relate to the decisions that either both parents or one parent will have a right to make as to their children, the time that both parents spend with their children, and any protective boundaries that the parents agree to regarding the children and their safety.

A detailed parenting plan will set forth what kind of legal custody the parents have and define what important child related decisions the parents must consult and agree upon, and what access each parent shall have to medical and school records. For instance, parents who have joint legal custody will typically have clauses in their custody agreements which require both parents to consult with each other and agree upon what school a child attends, what extracurricular activities a child participates in, and whether or not a child should attend therapy.

Parenting plans should also set forth what time each parent spends with their children. Detailed parenting plans will consist of orders that set forth what days each parent has the children in their care and what time the parents exchange the children. Furthermore, it is strongly recommended that parents have a parenting plan about when the children spend time with their parents during holidays, and if they are in school, how much time the children spend with each parent during their breaks.

In some cases, courts also issue orders to protect children as part of the parenting plans. For instance, if there have been allegations that one or both parents have had problems with the over consumption of alcohol, prescribed medication, or have abused illegal substances, the court can make orders banning the consumption of alcohol and drugs while the parent is spending time with the children. In some cases, the court can even require that a parent submit to a random and observed urine test to ensure that the parent is not under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drugs.

It is important when you are going through a divorce with children or a parentage action to determine what you as a parent believe is best for your children in terms of the decisions you make for their benefit, the time you spend with them, and any potential safety or boundary issues that may need to be addressed in your custody case.