Parenting Plans and Divorce

Parenting Plan Review

Here is the brutal truth: divorce with kids is going to be difficult. Maybe very difficult. Parents have a great deal of influence on how much and to what degree divorce has on their children’s lives.

You must prepare for the worst and help facilitate (hope for?) the best experience possible. How do you do that?

  1. You do your best to communicate with your divorcing spouse, reaching an agreement on how you will each parent the children and how you will speak to them about the fractured family and about the other parent, and
  2. You both agree on a Parenting Schedule that puts the children’s interests first. We strongly suggest that you put the temporary parenting plan in writing, and on the web. Once the permanent plan is issued, amend the temporary to the permanent plan.

Why in writing and why on the web?

At the outset, having a visible schedule that everyone can see will provide a sense of structure and permanence that a paper copy will not. When there are changes to the schedule, the parent who has put the schedule on-line can make quick changes. If your children are older, they can access the calendar themselves, and be able to plan their activities (Next week I’m at Dad’s, so let’s make it the weekend after). This is especially helpful to Tweens.

You may not experience the kind of rancor many do, but those that do find that one of the parents is so resentful (angry, bitter, etc.) that they try to interfere with the other parent’s parenting time. The most successful pre-divorce and post divorce parenting plans have as a primary component that no changes to the schedule get made without agreement by the parents, and if there is no agreement, there are no changes.

When separation or divorce papers are filed with the court, an interim parenting plan will be established – either from agreement by the parents, or by an order of the court. The savvy parent rushes to get the parenting plan online, and then notifies the other parent that it will be The Scheduling Tool between them.

Objectives of a Parenting Plan
  • establish a proper allocation of parental rights and responsibilities
  • establish an appropriate working relationship between the parents such that matters regarding the health, education and welfare of their child is best determined
  • provide for the child’s physical care
  • set forth an appropriate schedule of parenting time
  • maintain the child’s emotional stability

activities calendar

  • provide for the child’s changing needs as the child grows and matures in a way that minimizes the need for future modifications to the permanent parenting plan
  • minimize the child’s exposure to harmful parental conflict
  • encourage the parents, where appropriate, to meet their responsibilities to their minor children through agreements in the permanent parenting plan, rather than by relying on judicial intervention; and
  • otherwise protect the best interests of the child
Custody Schedules

The parenting plan details the terms and conditions of custody and visitation during a separation and/or a divorce. The plan is intended to allow parents to avoid conflict arising from divorced parenting and its responsibilities. The most flexible and successful parenting plans are started as soon as possible after the physical separation, and are adjusted to precisely what the court order states once the divorce is final.


The rest of the crowd still does a parenting plan the old-fashioned way. The divorce decree itself is used to quote from, and argue about, and eventually gets jammed into a drawer, to not see the light of day again. A friend of your child has a birthday party next month that gets forgotten by the other parent, and arguments ensue. School vacations, which are blocked out on the on-line plan, become circled dates on a calendar with notes scribbled about without an on-line plan.

You’ll discover over time that you will want to keep notes of things that happen, or of things said, and the old way was to make a note somewhere, and hope it meets up with your last note. Rather than have your records in different places, on-line parenting plans accommodate any record you wish to create around a date or an issue.

ExpensesDad and daughter

When summer arrives, you’ll have two separate schedules. Who is supposed to pay what? You will all need to know what you are doing, where you are, what the kids are doing, with whom, and what the ex has planned when the kids are there. What about child support during the summer? Is it less because the kids are with the other parent for a month? If you are anything like me, the details will be kept on scraps of paper on my desk, destined to be lost. The on-line plan keeps all these records tidy and available.

Tracking the kids’ time with the other parent

The final decree calls for a minimum amount of time spent with the other parent. How will you track that? By using an on-line parenting plan, of course. If there is ever a court challenge to custody, or child support, the on-line plan can calculate almost anything for you, and be printed out as a summary of activity. The judge will appreciate that much more than a pile of notes.

What issues will a Parenting Plan resolve?
  1. Parenting time – how much time the child spends with each parent
  2. Decision making – identifies each parent’s right and obligation to make important (legal) decisions regarding a child’s education, religious instruction and health care
  3. Medical insurance and related expenses – maintenance of health insurance and who pays
  4. A dispute resolution process – parties agree to mediation, arbitration or other collaborative effort
  5. Visitation and overnights – sets specific days of the week, times, and with whom a child will be
  6. Vacations and school recesses – defines alternate schedule between the parents
  7. Physical and mental health care – defines how a child will be cared for and by whom
  8. Access to school activities and records – usually details the access to the child’s school experience by the non-custodial parent
  9. Contacts with relatives and significant parties – permits interactions with family, extended family and other significant relations
  10. Transport and exchange of the child – who picks up and drops off, and the details of exchanging the child

visitation laws

There is, of course, the other way

You can do a search for free generic parenting plan templates on-line. They exist. You can download them, print them out and then complete them by hand (or use a typewriter). The ones we’ve seen seem to have most of the basic details you’ll need to get a basic plan in writing. But you get what you pay for. If every issue and concern isn’t provided to you so that you can give it consideration, will you know? Will the paper plan stay accessible to each parent, or will one accidentally lose it on purpose?

You will really only get one shot at doing this right

You can take your chances by not putting your parenting plan in writing and not on the web. You can find a free template on the web and wrestle with that mess, or you can cut to the chase and buy an affordable on-line plan and rest easy knowing you are covered. It can become the most important document in your post-divorce life.

parenting timeParentingTime.net

ParentingTime.net has been offering Optimal™ for more than a decade. It is a comprehensive parenting plan platform that offers parents and/or professionals a concise way to create documents that make the custody and parenting processes as easy as it can be. The Calendar:

  • maps out your parenting time for a year
  • shows you whether your Guest Calendar is set to Public or Private access
  • permits you to post a schedule that you and the child’s other parent can share and use to make arrangements, arrange pick-up and drop-offs, and work from the same information wherever the children’s time is involved
  • is also an ideal tool for recording other events, such as doctor’s appointments, meetings, and other activities

Take the Optimal™ Demo for a test drive or give the Feature Tour a whirl. We think you will like it.

For $149.00, you can achieve peace of mind knowing everything is documented.

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