A parenting plan is simply a legal agreement that two separated or divorced parents sit down and make together.  Basically, it is simply a specific schedule for the children and the parents and allows some semblance of order into the chaos.  This plan is designed to outline where visitation will take place, when it will take place, and the living situation for the children from here on out.  A parenting plan also offers the opportunity for parents to work together and develop a plan. The sooner a parenting plan is put into place the better off your children will be.  This is because the plan minimizes chaos and confusion for your children during the process of going from a two parent home to two one parent homes.  Simply put, the parenting plan basically spells out how you, the other parent, and the children will live life during and after the divorce.  Special consideration should be taken during the process of negotiating this type of plan because it allows the process of transitioning to be easier for the entire family.  There are numerous things that should be taken into consideration when you are developing this plan.

The first, and most important, thing you should think about is the needs of the children and their perspective/viewpoint on the situation.  You need to make sure that the parenting plan is strong enough that it provides structure, but flexible enough that both parents are spending time with the child.  The first plan should be a trial plan.  Set a date a few months from starting the plan to make any necessary revisions.  By constructing a trial plan first, you will be able to go back and make any necessary changes if you see that the needs of your children are not being met effectively.

You also need to keep in mind that the plan you put in place for a younger child will not work for an older one.  The parenting plan should be adjusted as your child grows and their needs change.  It should also specifically address what will happen with each child.  There should be a schedule in place for when each parent will have the children.  Information about who takes care of what, provides what care, is responsible for expenses of care, and is responsible for children when they are not with the parents (like when they are at school, which parent will the school call first?) should be included.

The plan should also include guidelines for how the parents will treat each other when children are around.  Think of the parenting plan as a business plan; conduct yourself in a businesslike way in order to keep conflict and chaos away from your children.  Include where your children will be during the weekdays and on the weekends.  Plan out a holiday schedule, the best way to do the holiday schedule is to make a list of the holidays, and divide them up.  If it is best, the holiday plan can be one parent has them half the day and the other parent the other half, and then you could alternate each year.  For example, one parent would have the children in the morning on Christmas every odd numbered year, and the other would have them on the even numbered years.  It’s important to include every detail in this plan.  These are just a few of the many things that should be included.