Parenting plan

Parenting plan

A Parenting Plan or Custody Agreement is required by the district court along with divorce paperwork when parents divorce or separate. A Parenting Plan allows parents to avoid future conflicts arising from a lack of guidelines in dealing with responsibilities relating to the children. Without specific agreements around these responsibilities disputes can arise and litigation may be needed to resolve these issues. When parents do not comply with this law the court is then forced to make decisions about the children's lives and come up with a Parenting Plan of their own. Parents can consider including binding arbitration where an arbitrator will make the same decisions that a judge would to avoid the courts in the future.

A Parenting Plan will addresses topics such as:

  • Parenting Time (physical custody)
  • Decision Making (legal custody)
  • Transportation and Exchanges
  • Annual Vacations and School Breaks
  • Child Support
  • A Dispute Resolution Process
  • Schools Attended and Access to Records
  • Physical and Mental Health Care
  • Contact Information, Relocation and Foreign Travel
  • Social Activities and School functions
  • Overnights and Visitation
  • Communications and Mutual Decision-Making
  • Mediation and Arbitration
  • Medical Insurance and Related Expenses
  • Contact with Relatives and Significant Others
  • Taxes and Wills

Some of these topics are regulated by state law such as child support and health insurance.

If the parenting plan agreed by parties before the court hearing, it is called "stipulated". Judge can approve the stipulated parenting plan without of any court hearing. Judges are normally encourage parties to reach the agreement, rather than go to hearing. By statistic, most family law cases (90–95%) settle before the judge rules on them.[1]


United States

In most of the states there is a law required that court-ordered parenting plans must set forth the minimum amount of parenting time and access a noncustodial parent is entitled to have.[2][3][4][5][6][7] If the minimum time requirement is missing from the court order, that can lead to potential appeal of the order in a higher court. The first parenting plan usually is a part of divorce order, if children are involved. Parents later can modify the existing parenting plan by filing a new request with a court when circumstances have changed like parent relocation, child abuse issues, health problems etc.

The standard short-distance visitation plan by the family court in most U.S. states consists of alternating weekends and some holidays, there are also medium and long-distance parental plans that allow to combine these visits into a longer stretches of time to reduce traveling.[8][9][10][11] Parents normally can make variations to the state standard parenting plan or develop a different custom plan if the judge approves the changes.

However, the child, at or around the age of 13, depending on the state, may have a right to testify in court about custody and parenting plan arrangements that normally has a big impact on court decision.

Parenting plans can also include various restrictions and general notes about parents contact with child, like regulation of safety issues, medical care, sports attendance, and many more. Sometime parenting plan has a restriction on parents relocation or waiver from state rules allowing parents to relocate without the request to court.

Great Britain

In England and Wales the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, a non-departmental public body, produces a booklet Parenting Plans Putting your children first: a guide for separating parents. [12]


Parenting Plans in Australia[13] are a written agreement between two parents and are made without the assistance or endorsement of a court, but can be made with the assistance of a mediator. They are non-binding and not legally enforcable and so cannot be contravened. A parenting plan can be written in such a way that it can submitted to a court for endorsement, but once endorsed it becomes a consent order. There is no such thing as a "standard" parenting plan as each one is unique, but there are example parenting plans available.[14]

Although a parenting plan isn't legally enforcable, if legal action is initiated after a parenting plan has been agreed the court will give careful consideration and considerable weight to the agreed plan as it shows the intent of each parent at the time of signing.

Parenting plans can include as many or as few considerations about the child(ren) as both parents agree to, however child support payments are not generally included as payable child support is calculated by the Australian Government Child Support Agency (CSA).[15]


  1. ^ "Texas Divorce, Family Law and Collaborative Law". 
  2. ^ "ORS 107.102 Parenting plan". 
  3. ^ "Montana Parenting Plans". 
  4. ^ "Tennessee, Minimum parenting plan requirements". 
  5. ^ "Georgia parenting plan". 
  6. ^ "Florida Parenting Plan". 
  7. ^ "California Parenting Plans". 
  8. ^ "Florida Approved Parenting Plans". 
  11. ^ "New York Parenting Plan sample". 
  12. ^ CAFCASS (2006). "Parenting Plans: Putting your children first: a guide for separating parents" (pdf). Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  13. ^ "Parenting Plans in Australia". 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  14. ^ "Example Parenting Plan" (pdf). 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  15. ^ "Australian Government Child Support Agency". 

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