What should I include in my parenting plan?

There are many things that should be in a parenting plan so that the risk of a dispute rising is lowered.

For parents who are going through a divorce or legal separation in Southern California, one of the issues they will need to address is the care of their children. USA Today states that lawmakers across the country are starting to shift their views from one parent retaining custody of the children to shared parenting. It is believed that giving both parents equal time with their children will reduce animosity between each other. Additionally, it is in the best interest of the children, encouraging them to maintain a meaningful relationship with each parent. The most effective way for parents to work together in this type of arrangement is to set up a parenting plan.


One of the first things that should go into a plan is a schedule. This will include the following:

  • Holidays
  • Special occasions
  • The school calendar
  • Vacations
  • Day-to-day activities that the child is involved in.

The Superior Court of California, County of Orange Family Court Services points out that when setting up the schedule, parents should keep in mind the child's attachment to each parent. If one parent stayed at home, then it is only natural that the child will need more time with that parent at first as he or she adjusts to the new arrangement.

Timeframe for the plan itself

It is important for parents to understand that the parenting plan is not a permanent document. Psychology Today states that while it can be renewed, there should be a date at which the plan will be re-examined. This can give each parent the opportunity to suggest amendments if the child's schedule has changed in some way. For instance, the child may get involved in a school program and therefore it would be more difficult for the child to sleep at the assigned parent's house that night.

Responsibilities of each parent

Parenting is a tough job, even when the parents still live under the same roof. However, in cases involving the end of a romantic relationship, it is not uncommon for people to have widely different views of what is best for their child. With this in mind, people should clarify in the parenting plan what responsibilities each parent will be assigned.

This could give the parent with the child the right to make decisions relating to extracurricular activities. Parents can also decide that all important choices relating to education, health and religious upbringing should be made by both or that they will split it. Making such designations can prevent unnecessary disputes from occurring. If parents in California do find themselves in a contentious situation with the other parent, they may want to talk about their concerns with an experienced attorney.