Parenting Plans

Parent holding hand of young boy walking; parenting plan

A Parenting Plan describes how parents will share parenting time with their children, how day-to-day decisions will be made for the children and it resolves other parenting concerns such as access to medical and school records, religious upbringing, and medical decision making. Parents may submit a joint plan or submit separate plans for the court to consider.

The Family Law Court or the court that hears family law cases is required to make the final custody determinations based on their evaluation of what is in the best interest of the child using the information presented. After consideration of the facts, the court will issue an order relating to custody that must note the reason(s) for its decision. Regardless of its decision about custody, the court can allocate parenting time between the parents.

Parent – Child Communications and Access: 

Unless there is a reason to limit telephone or email communications, each parent should facilitate opportunities to provide for such communications with the other parent. Parents should have equal access and the right to obtain all education and medical records relating to their children and to attend and participate in their children’s school and extracurricular activities. If there has been domestic violence, access to activities may be limited or require coordination to comply with the restraining order.

As long as parents are not deemed unfit, they have a constitutional right to make determinations concerning the care of their children. A child’s relationships with his or her parents should be nurtured to the fullest extent possible.

Best Interest of the Child Standard: 

The US has not adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which provides a set of law and guidelines for how much of the world determines the best interest of the child standard. However, most US courts do use a version of the law codified by individual states. In most states, the court considers the best interest of the child the primary and controlling consideration in all child custody controversies.

Note: If Grandparents want visitation rights, they should seek them when the parents are submitting their parenting plans. The parenting plans may include time with grandparents and other family members.

The following format provides a template for the Parenting Plan. You may use different formats than those shown to suit your specific situation. Use additional space, if needed.

Custody in Parenting Plans:

Joint custody:

Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child’s education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training; however, a judge may designate one parent to have sole authority to make specific, identified decisions while both parents retain equal rights and responsibilities for all other decisions.

Sole custody:

A person, including, but not limited to, a parent who has temporary or permanent custody of a child and, unless otherwise provided for by court order, the rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child’s education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training.

Please designate which custody arrangement you propose:

_____    Sole Custody to _______________________________

_____     Joint Custody

_____    Joint Custody with Primary Custody to ___________________ and Secondary Custody to ___________________________

_____    Other custodial arrangement ______________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

Decisionmaking Parenting Plan:

Please also identify:

  1. The major decisions that need to be discussed between the parents prior to decisions being made
  2. Describe how any disagreements between the parents should be resolved.

At a minimum, include:

  • Medical and Dental Care
  • Religious Training
  • Education
  • Extra-Curricular Activities

Parenting Schedule:

REGULAR/SCHOOL YEAR SCHEDULE:

Describe how you propose to divide time with your children between you and their other parent over a fourteen day time period.

Week # 1 Mother Father Week # 2 Mother Father
Sunday Sunday
Monday Monday
Tuesday Tuesday
Wednesday Wednesday
Thursday Thursday
Friday Friday
Saturday Saturday

SUMMER SCHEDULE:

4. What summer schedule do you propose to follow for your child(ren) as part of your parenting plan?:

____    The regular school year schedule shall continue on a weekly basis. In addition to this parenting schedule, the parent with secondary custody shall have __________ additional weeks of parenting time to include the regularly scheduled weekend parenting.

____    The regular school year parenting schedule will be replaced during the summer, and be replaced by the following summer parenting schedule including the variations noted below:

Between _____________ and ______________, Father/Mother will have exclusive custody.

Between _____________ and ______________, Father/Mother will have exclusive custody.

Between _____________ and ______________, Father/Mother will have exclusive custody.

Between _____________ and ______________, Father/Mother will have exclusive custody.

Week # 1 Mother Father Week # 2 Mother Father
Sunday Sunday
Monday Monday
Tuesday Tuesday
Wednesday Wednesday
Thursday Thursday
Friday Friday
Saturday Saturday

Special circumstances for consideration during the summer:

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If either parent is serving in the military, a separate parenting plan for times when the service member is deployed should be developed. If appropriate, you may wish to include visitation with the deployed parents’ parents or other family members.

HOLIDAYS & BIRTHDAYS:

Identify holidays that carry a level of significance in your family life and address visitation with the child(ren) during those holidays. The list provided below may not include all holidays that you would include in a parenting plan. Include start date and time and end date and time for each holiday. You can arrange the schedule in a different manner. If you want to alternate the holidays from year-to-year, you can indicate that and indicate who has the child on the holiday the first year. You can also indicate how trades will be worked out or do that later, if and when necessary. The better the working relationship between the parents is, the more flexibility you can allow. If every interaction is contentious you’ll want to have a set schedule with no room for misinterpretation.

HOLIDAY MOTHER FATHER
New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
President’s Day
Passover / Good Friday
Easter
Mother’s Day
Memorial Day
Father’s Day
Fourth of July
Labor Day
Halloween
Thanksgiving
Hanukkah
Christmas
Child’s Birthday
Sibling’s Birthday(s)
Mother’s Birthday
Father’s Birthday
Other:

How will child-centered activities that affect visitation be handled? If a child wants to attend soccer camp when normal visitation with the non-custodial parent is scheduled, will the non-custodial parent have a choice about alternate times? How will college tours be handled?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How will travel arrangements for visitation be handled? Who will bring the children to whom? If one parent relocates, how will the children move between parental homes? Who will bear the cost of transportation? If the children are young and flights are involved, who will travel with the children when they are not old enough to fly alone? At what age will they be allowed to fly alone (i.e. when legally able or at a later date preferred by the parents)? If there is a restraining order against one parent to protect the other parent, how will they handle the exchange of a child for visitation?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

RESTRICTIONS:

Identify any additional factors for the court to consider, such as exposure of the child(ren) to paramours, disparaging the other parent, supervision of internet use, exposing child(ren) to inappropriate material, use of drugs and/or alcohol, etc.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CONTACT CONSIDERATIONS:

Describe the frequency of contact each parent will have with the child(ren) while in the other parent’s care (ie. Facebook, telephone, Skype, email, Facetime, etc.). Also, address the method and frequency of contact between the two parents.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE COURT:

Please identify any other issues or concerns you would like for the court to consider in regards to the issues involving your child(ren) that has not already been provided in this document.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

APPOINTMENT OF A GUARDIAN AD LITEM:

I respectfully request that the court appoint a lay / attorney guardian ad litem for the minor child(ren).

I would like to request that the court appoint ________________ to serve in that capacity.

I do not have any recommendations as to the appointment of a guardian ad litem.

 

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