What is a Parenting Plan? A Guide for Separated Parents

Working together with a parenting plan

Separation from an ex-partner can understandably be an extremely distressing and emotional time especially when you have children and the future of their care is uncertain. It can lead to further disputes and hostility when really all you both want is to be actively involved in your children’s lives with minimal disruption to their routines. This is where a parenting plan can be an extremely useful tool. A parenting plan is an agreement between you as parents which adocuments the arrangements concerning your children without the need of having to go to Court.

What should be included in a parenting plan?

There is no right answer to this question as it really depends on the circumstances and needs of your family. It can be as detailed and structured or as simple and flexible as you and your ex partner agree for it to be. Listed below are some principles commonly included within a parenting plan: –

• When each parent will spend time with the children (formerly known as contact) including the days and times each week;

• Where handovers of the children will take place, for example, at each parent’s house or in a neutral place both parents are comfortable with;

• Arrangements for the school holidays, for example, whether the term time arrangements for contact will remain in place and how extended periods of time away especially abroad will be decided between the parents;

• How both parents will communicate with each other about the children, for example, by text, by phone, or by setting up a joint email account;

• Details concerning the children’s healthcare e.g. contact details of their doctor and dentist and arrangements for what to do in a medical emergency, for example agreement that the other parent must be phoned immediately to be informed;

• Details of the children’s daily routine and extra-curricular activities;

• How the children’s expenses will be shared between both parents, for example, for school uniform and extra-curricular activities;

• Agreement between both parents not to demonstrate any hostility towards each other in front of the children or speak badly about one and another to the children.

What are the benefits of a parenting plan?

  • Stability and certainty – It will provide both the children and the parents with a reliable routine to stick to and everyone will know exactly what is expected of them.
  • Avoids the need to go to Court – Nobody wants the added stress of a lengthy, expensive and draining court battle over their children. A parenting plan still allows for arrangements to be documented in writing but with the added benefit that the parents have come to those arrangements between themselves.
  • Promotes an amicable and positive relationship between both parents – If both parents agree on the arrangements for their children together, it is much more likely that they will work together and stick to the plan.
  • A united front for the children – by creating a working structure for the care of your children together as parents this illustrates to your children that you are co-parenting. Knowing that you have a positive relationship will have an extremely positive impact upon your children’s emotional wellbeing.

How do you put together a parenting plan?

You and your ex-partner can attend family mediation and come to an agreement around a table together with the help of a mediator who will be there to facilitate those discussions and negotiations. The documenr  recording your agreed proposals is called a Memorandum of Understanding.

Alternatively, you can instruct solicitors who will put forward proposals on your behalf and help you reach an agreement with your ex-parent. The arrangements will then be documented in writing and boh parents will sign the parenting plan.

If you would like some more information or would like to go ahead with a parenting plan please do not hesitate to contact our experienced family law team on 0113 322 9222 or by email at enquiries@consilialegal.co.uk.

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