Developing a Parenting Plan
What are your goals for your children after separation?
Examples of possible goals: children’s needs come first, stability, consistency, peace, involvement from both parents, love, values, predictability, cooperation between parents, change as minimal as possible, shared decisions by parents, discipline, time with parent, limits.
A good Parenting Plan will describe how you and your co-parent will handle any of the following items that are relevant to your children. Some of the possible items included are:
1. Access to Outside Information and People:
o Teachers, doctors, school reports, medical reports, school conferences
o Informing the other, consulting with each other about major decisions
2. Medical Concerns:
o Routine decision-making, notification, legal consent, who stays home when child is sick
o Emergency contact numbers for school
o Extended family arrangements
o Method of scheduling and notice of health care appointments
o Selection of health care professionals, tutors, doctors, therapists
3. Daily Schedule: Typical week
o Where are the children when
o Clothing and other belongings - 2 sets or one? Who is responsible for them?
o Transportation- pick-up and drop off arrangements
o Others authorized or restricted from transporting the children
o Child’s special activities (birthday parties, sleepovers)
o Mode for changing the schedule in a particular week - for more time, if work interferes, emergencies
o Who arranges coverage if needed
o First option to care for children in absence of direct care by other parent
o Telephone, email, IM contact access
o Access to child’s sports games, recitals, performances, etc.
o Babysitters- right of other parent to claim that time before a sitter is engaged
4. Holidays- Take precedence over normal schedule?
o Birthdays – parties with Mom and Dad, separately?
o Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning, and Christmas Day
o Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Chanukah, Passover, other Jewish holidays
o School breaks for Winter and Spring, other School holidays- ½ days, teacher holiday
o Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, July 4th
o New Years, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Kwanza , other
5. Vacations and Travel
o ok for one parent to take the children out of town, and for how long, amount of notice to other parent
o Travel within US or internationally
o Who holds passport for child
o Public school or private school
o If private school, who pays
o Religious education
o selection of school or day care provider
o Special educational needs requirements – tutoring, IEP
6. Decision Making – Who makes and how
o Religion- how child will be raised, specific religious attendance, or events such as Bar Mitzvah, communion.
o Exposure to any other religion of other parent or extended family
o Medical treatment-when non-emergency: joint decisions or one parent has final say
o Discipline – same rules in both houses, or each parent makes their own rules? Support each other’s discipline decisions, i.e. if grounded in one house, same in other?
o Safety –any relative the children should not be left alone with or ride in car with?
o Extra-curricular activities
o Same rules of discipline and chores in both houses or up to individual parent
o Type of communication between parents - no arguing or raising voices when children present, civil and business-like as much as possible
o Not quizzing children regarding activities of other parent
o How- phone, in person, notes, email
o Not using child as messenger
o Not criticizing other parent to child or allowing the child to do so
o Regular communication conference?
8. Renegotiation of parenting plan
o Periodic review of plan, or as needed
o Building in flexibility
o Children’s needs change – how to deal with that
o Parental Change of Residence- distance, restrictions, notice to other parent
o How residence of child would/would not change if parent moves out of town
o Any party as tie breaker if no agreement
o Return to mediation if unable to agree
9. Relationships in child’s life
o Fostering relationships with other relatives, grandparents, access and visiting
o Supporting relationship of child with opposite parent
o Presence of new girlfriends or boyfriends with the children- overnights, daytime activities- how to intro these people to kids before and after divorce.