During separation and divorce, it can be difficult for parents to separate their own feelings about the situation from the necessity of deciding on a sensible set of guidelines for continuing to raise their children. In many cases, a parenting plan provides a successful solution to this problem.
You can prepare your own parenting plan with this Child Support Agreement and Parenting Plan Kit.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is an agreement between parents which sets out the common expectations for bringing up their children. There is no defined set of criteria which need to be included in a parenting plan, but most plans include information on physical custody, preferred choice of school, transportation during exchanges, arrangements for holidays and breaks, decision making, social activities and physical and mental healthcare.
Are parenting plans legally binding?
A parenting plan isn’t legally binding, although it can form the basis for a legally binding agreement if you submit it and its approved as consent orders through the court later on.
If either party subsequently takes the other to court over a parenting issue, the original parenting plan carries a considerable amount of weight in reaching a legally binding decision.
What isn’t included in a parenting plan?
Generally a parenting plan doesn’t include expectations around child maintenance or other financial support issues. The idea of a parenting plan is that it centres on the needs of the children, rather than on money matters which are considered to be of concern to parents. Your can separately agree on child support arrangements in a Child Support Agreement.
What are the advantages of a parenting plan?
Normally a parenting plan is drawn up with the help of a facilitator, rather than the court. This allows both sides to put forward their own ideas and hopefully reach a workable outcome that is mutually acceptable. Mediation removes the adversarial attitude which court proceedings can often facilitate, allowing parents to focus on the needs of the child rather than their own feelings of animosity and possible desire for retribution.
A parenting plan can also save you time and money, compared with protracted court proceedings.
If you need help finalising your parenting plan or you’re going through a divorce and want what’s best for your children, its important to get legal advice from a family lawyer who can guide you through the process.