If you are one of the lucky ones, you and your former partner will be
able to amicably work out a parenting plan without court intervention. Or,
you may be able to accomplish this through a mediation process. If not,
and you are headed to trial, you will more than likely be asked to submit
a parenting plan to a GAL (guardian ad litem), or custody evaluator at
some time in the investigation process. The court may also ask each party
to submit one. Several judges in our jurisdiction have stated that
if a parent does not submit a detailed parenting plan, they feel that
parent has not given much consideration to their children's needs. A
parenting plan needs to consist of more than blanket statements like "sole
custody", "every other weekend" or "50/50". Be specific.
Here are some things to think about when designing a plan for you
and your children:
State legal and physical custody of the children.
Specify regular exchange days, times, locations and parties involved.
Include both school year and summer schedules.
Spell out all holidays, referencing exchange days, times, locations,
parties involved. Think about how you might need to change the exchange
days, times if it falls on a regularly scheduled visitation period.
Spell out handling of school in-service days, state holidays &
observances, other Federal holidays not mentioned elsewhere.
Children's birthdays. What if it falls on a school day?
Parents birthdays. What if it falls on a school day?
1st Right of Refusal. Think long and hard about this one. If you ask
for it, so will he.
We wrote ours like this: First Option to Care - If the children will
not be with the parent they are scheduled to be with for a period of 4
hours or greater during weekend parenting time, the other parent shall
have the option to have the children during that period of absence.
Normally scheduled visitation would remain the same.
Predetermined vacation periods. How many weeks? Consecutive or not?
Specific dates or left open?
Special extended family events--grandparent's birthdays, regular family
There should be a provision that encourages free and liberal telephone
access between the parents and the children when in the other parentís
Consider e-mail access and IM access for the children.
Both parties shall agree to a provision prohibiting the use of corporal
Both parties shall agree not to disparage the other in front of the
children or to others where the children can hear.
Day care and after-school care arrangements
Parent travel: Mr. shall not leave the children in the care of
others when he is out of town. If Mr. has travel scheduled for evening
hours, the children should be returned to Ms. by 5:30 of the day upon
which travel is scheduled.
Mr. and Ms. to split uninsured medical, dental and orthodontic costs
for the children. Ms. has been and shall continue to provide medical
insurance for both children. Mr. & Mrs. to split the cost of medical
Mr. and Ms. to split college expenses.
Ms. shall continue to apply for and invest children's (income) until
they reach maturity. Ms. shall continue to maintain and administer
children's individual bank accounts until they reach college age or
maturity, whichever comes first.
If Mr. is unable to exercise his visitation, there are no provisions
for make-up visitation.
Mr. will be responsible for picking up and delivering the children to
and from Ms. home unless pre-arranged between the parties.
Specific provisions applicable to your situation: Ex. Children are not
to be left unattended in vehicles or buildings at any time during Mr.ís
care., Drug/alcohol testing/use, no unrelated parties are to stay
overnight at either parents home while the children are in their care,
What about if one of you moves?
if one of you re-marries? We've read agreements that include what a new
step mom/dad is allowed and is not allowed to do.
Who pays for extra
Who pays for day care if needed? Who chooses the day care
Who can claim the kids on taxes? Many parents alternate