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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Parenting Schedule or Parenting Plan


Term Definition Parenting Schedule or Parenting Plan - terms used by courts since the mid-1990s in lieu of custody and visitation, referring to parentsí time with minor children or sharing custodial rights and responsibilities.
Application in Divorce Custody and visitation are two friction points between divorced couples. A good parenting plan goes a long way toward eliminating issues that can become inflammatory.

The parenting plan, which is normally incorporated with the marital settlement agreement, has the force of a court order.

Within reason, spouses can write anything into the plan. No one right plan exists; anything that works is fine.

The plan is a trellis upon which visitation happens, and visitation is, for divorced parents, now part of parenting. And parenting is now more difficult because the spouses are now seldom together to reinforce one another.

A parenting plan deals with the nuts and bolts of custody arrangements and the specifics of visitation by the noncustodial parent, such as schooling, special days and dates and contact by noncustodial parent. The plan is often built around a core schedule of hours and days when the noncustodial parent takes charge of the children.

The terms and conditions of medical insurance coverage and extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses for the children are normally described in the marital separation agreement, but the parenting plan may reference medical care, providing that each parent keep the other informed about the child’s routine visits to the doctor.

Some parenting plans also establish protocols for grandparent visitation. They may include agreements about third-party care of the children. They may establish limits on television watching, bedtimes, rules for homework.

Some plans now specifically include email as a designated communication link between children and the noncustodial parent, and designate a set time of the day for the noncustodial parent to call the child on the telephone.

The introduction of new partners into the lives of small children can be very difficult for a youngster, so a parenting plan may deal with dating and establish dating accords, including sleep over protocols for new partners.

A good parenting plan is specific enough to be useful, but general enough to be flexible.

See Parenting Time

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