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Issues to Consider When Drafting a Parenting Plan

Thu 31st Aug, 2023 Family Law

Divorce ends a married couple’s roles as spouses, but it does not end their roles as parents. After a divorce involving children, the parents will need to work together to establish a parenting plan that provides for the continued health, safety, and well-being of the children. This may be easier said than done for many parents, particularly in high-conflict divorces and in situations where the parents do not communicate well. The details of a parenting plan will vary from family to family, but there are several issues our Stockton family law attorneys recommend that all parents consider. 

Parenting Time  

Parenting time generally refers to physical custody. This section of a parenting plan should establish how much time each parent will spend with the children. For example, where the parents agree to 50/50 custody, a parenting time schedule could take one of the following forms: 

  • 7-7: The children alternate weeks with each parent
  • 2-2-3: The children stay with one parent for two days, the other parent for two days, and then the first parent for the next three days
  • 2-2-5-5: The children stay with one parent for two days, the other parent for two days, then the first parent for five days, then the other parent for five days 

Parents who do not have 50/50 custody or who live far away from each other may need to be more creative, such as spending the school year with one parent and summer vacation and all holidays with the other parent. 

Decision Authority 

Decision authority generally refers to legal custody, which in most cases the parents share equally. This includes considerations like school, medical treatment, and religious instruction. A parenting plan may specify that both parents must agree on each of these considerations or it may divide them up. For example, one parent may be given authority over medical decisions and the other authority over school decisions. 

Financial Support  

The general rule of child support is that the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. But how the custodial parent has some discretion over how that child support is spent. When drafting a parenting plan, be sure to go over the children’s financial needs and establish exactly which parent will pay which expenses. 


A good parenting plan will cover communication between all parties, including between the parents and between the parents and the children. A communication plan should establish when communication should occur (e.g., as part of a weekly check-in or prior to major events or travel) and how it should occur (e.g., by text, phone call, email, etc.).  


Travel (especially unplanned travel) can often wreak havoc on established parenting plans. To avoid that outcome, parents should establish parameters around travel and specify how much notice must be provided to the other parent before traveling. 

Craft a Parenting Plan That Works for You With Help From a Stockton Family Law Attorney 

It is impossible for a parenting plan to take into account all future possibilities, but it should be crafted well enough to allow for predictable outcomes. For assistance crafting a parenting plan that works for your family, contact a Stockton family law attorney at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau by using our online form or calling us at 209-477-8171.

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