When married couples divorce, there are many issues that need to be resolved. When there are children in the family, the divorce becomes significantly more complex. One of the ways parents can alleviate many of the potential problems after a divorce is by implementing parenting plans. A parenting plan is a document that outlines the many areas of concern regarding the children. It becomes part of the divorce decree and, therefore, plenty of thought and consideration must be given when creating it.

What to Include in Parenting Plans

The more detailed the parenting plan, the better. The plan will be utilized by both parents to guide them through the everyday decisions after a divorce. Some of the most important items to include in a plan are:

  • Where the Child Will Reside During the Week and Weekend (Parenting Time)
  • Instructions for Transfer of Children Between Parents
  • Where Children Will Spend Vacations and Holidays
  • How Parents Should Handle Health Necessities, Religious Training, Educational, and Personal Care Decisions
  • Provisions for Communication Between Parents
  • How Disputes Are to Be Resolved
  • How Modifications May Be Made

Parenting plans are more than just a paperwork requirement that needs to be filled out. Instead, it is a very useful tool that families can use to help them establish new normalcy after the end of the marriage.

Create a Successful Plan

The best parenting plans are those that are collaborative efforts. Even spouses who disagree about many of the other terms of the divorce need to put the needs of their children first, and try to put some thought into the plan. Parents who are unable to come to an agreement may need outside help, such as a mediator. However, keep in mind that a knowledgeable divorce attorney will work on your behalf to try to resolve disputes and will ensure that your rights are always protected.

Changes to Parenting Plans

Parenting plans are made at the time of the divorce, and although they are designed to work for the long-term, there are many changes that may occur that require adjustments to the plan. The parenting plan is a legal document, so the instructions included will instruct you as to how modification can be made. Legal modifications should be made through the court system. Sometimes, a parent does not agree with the proposed changes to the plan. For example, one parent may wish to move out of town with the child. In cases such as this, a parent should immediately consult with an experienced family law attorney to assist parents in making sure that their parenting rights are upheld. Those going through a divorce should discuss parenting plans with their divorce attorney.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Parenting Plans, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.