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Parenting Plan basics

Making a comprehensive Parenting Plan is one the best things you can do for your children. Even if your state doesn't require it as part of divorce proceedings, it can be a good idea for any co-parenting couple. Many conflicts can potentially be avoided between parents who do not live together if important decisions such as visitation, medical care, daily care, schooling and financial contributions are agreed upon together.

How do you create a Parenting Plan?

Rocket lawyer offers this free Parenting Plan template, which you can use if:

  • You are getting a divorce and your state requires you to submit a Parenting Plan.
  • You are getting a divorce or separation and want to make a Parenting Plan for your own needs.
  • You need to make a co-parenting agreement with someone who is not a spouse.

A Parenting Plan should, at a minimum, clearly detail custody, visitation schedules, and financial obligations. However, the strongest Parenting Plans address other important topics such as medical rights, religion, vacations, transportation, education and extracurricular activities. Essentially, you are creating a document that will serve as a map and guide for co-parenting your children until they reach the age of 18.

What is the difference between a Parenting Plan and a parenting order?

A Parenting Plan is an agreement between parents outlining how they wish to co-parent. A parenting order is an order made by the court. Parenting orders carry the force of law, and if they are not followed, they can carry legal consequences.

What happens when a parent breaks a parenting plan?

When a parent breaks a parenting plan, it should be brought to the court's attention. When a parent breaks a parenting order, you have various options available in order to enforce the order, depending on the circumstances. For example, you can contact your local police department. You can also contact your local District Attorney. Filing an action for contempt with the court is another legal tool available to enforce the parenting order.

What is the best schedule for 50-50 custody?

The best schedule is what works best for the parents and the children. Common arrangements include alternating one week or two weeks, or alternating three to four days at a time with one parent and the other. It is important that your Parenting Plan include guidelines for special occasions, such as the child's birthday, the parent's birthday, Mother's Day or Father's Day, and other major holidays. One common solution is to alternate odd and even years for each of these days.

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Sample Parenting Plan

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