Checklist for Writing a Parenting Plan

Smiling mom holding baby

Writing a parenting plan is a significant task. It will outline how you and your co-parent will handle parenting issues and support the upbringing of your children after getting divorced.

A well-written parenting plan can make raising kids across separate homes easier because it will act as a point of reference for what steps to take to manage various parenting situations as they arise. It should also lay out a plan for how you and your co-parent will communicate and resolve issues concerning your children without conflict or consequences. All in all, a well-written parenting plan can act as a map of how your family will function from here on out. 

There are many topics to consider when writing a parenting plan. From how you and your co-parent will make important decisions concerning your child to when your child will eat dinner every day, parenting plans can be a wide-ranging document.

While it might seem like a lot to plan for, the most important thing to keep in mind when writing your plan is to keep every issue centered on maintaining your children's well-being and upholding their best interests. 

Parenting Plan Topics

To help you and your co-parent get started with writing your parenting plan, consider this checklist of issues not to miss. 

Also, download this free parenting plan checklist worksheet to help you document your thoughts on the various aspects of your plan.

Parenting Schedule

This will determine how your children will divide time between your homes. Make plans for transportation between homes during parenting time exchanges. Will you drive the kids to and from each other's homes, or will you plan to meet or drop the children at some other predetermined, safe location? 

Holidays and Special Dates

How will you share time with your children over holidays, school breaks, vacations, and other special occasions for your family? It may be helpful to work out a scheduling pattern that can help you plan holiday parenting time several years into the future. 

Travel and Vacations

How far in advance do trips need to be planned? If the children will be flying, how will their airline tickets be paid for? Is there anyone that cannot travel with the children?

Extended Family and Friends

Think about adding procedures for how the children will spend time and communicate with extended family members, like grandparents and cousins, and close family friends. If there are individuals whom you wish not to have contact with your children for the sake of their safety, bring this to the attention of your attorney while writing your parenting plan. 

Schedule Changes

How far ahead of time do you and your co-parent need to propose changes? How will you communicate about changes? What about changes due to an emergency?

Making Important Decisions

How to make decisions about health care, discipline, religion, schooling, and much more should be discussed in your parenting plan. You and your co-parent may have much of this already decided for you by the court, but it should all be written out in your plan so that you can reference these details as necessary.

Expenses

How will your children's costs of living be covered? These will include things like school tuition, medical expenses, extracurricular costs, food, clothing, and much more. Will you share the responsibility for every child-related cost, or will you each be 100% responsible for certain expenses? Again, much of this may be predetermined for your family based on a court ruling but should still be detailed in your plan. 

Communicating With Kids When Away

When you or your co-parent are not with your children, consider the ways that you will get in touch with your children. This is especially important to plan for if one parent cannot be with the children as much as the other. Phone calls, online messaging, video chatting and letters are all different ways that you might stay in touch while away. Choose the methods that work best for your family, and name those in your parenting plan. 

Co-Parent Communication

Having a determined method of communication with your co-parent is important for any family. Online co-parenting tools can be an excellent choice in this kind of situation. Decide the types of information you need to discuss and how often you must communicate.

As always, it is important to talk over all of these topics and any other concerns you may have with your attorney. They will be able to help guide you through the process of writing your parenting plan as well as answer any legal questions you have concerning your case.

In any situation, the OurFamilyWizard website can create a space for you and your co-parent to discuss and support you in enacting your plan. With shared parenting time calendars, expense tracking tools, and document storage, the OurFamilyWizard website provides a central location to house all of the details of your parenting plan and provide a secure space for communication in regards to the plan and other family matters.