Parenting Plans Should Be Detailed And Include Contingencies

A parenting plan is a tool designed for parents to have a schedule of parenting time with the children.  Sometimes, plans are developed during the course of the dissolution through negotiation and other times they are ordered by the Court after a trial. In any event,   a parenting plan becomes part of the divorce order in all divorce actions that include children. Some people look at plans as simply another piece of paper among dozens of pieces of paper that must be signed as part of the process. However, plans are very useful in resolving potential problems after the divorce is finalized. Parenting plans should be detailed in order to be as valuable as possible.

Determine How Regular Visitation Will Take Place

Post-divorce, children will be spending  time with both parents. The logistics of parenting time can be difficult when kids have a busy activity schedule or perhaps parents have unique work schedules. The best way to organize parenting time is to provide for it in the parenting plan, along with as many “what if” contingency plans as possible. Decide which days of the week each parent will care for the child and how the transitions will occur. For example, rather than simply stating that the parent will have weekly visits, detail the days and times of the week the visits will occur and who is responsible for picking up, or dropping off, the child.

Schedule Holidays and School Vacations

Take the time necessary to review upcoming holidays and school vacations. All too often parents gloss over these important events only to find themselves in a serious dispute later on. Decide how best to work various holidays. For example, you may want to alternate between major holidays from year to year in order to keep things equal.  Be sure to define when a holiday starts and stops.  For example, do not simply state “Thanksgiving shall be rotated,” but, instead, state something like, “Thanksgiving, which is defined as Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to Friday at 8:00 a.m., will be rotated with Mother exercising Thanksgiving in even-numbered years and Father exercising Thanksgiving in odd-numbered years.”  This is just one example to define a holiday and the definitions should follow what works for your family.

Provide for How Parents will Communicate

Communication between parents after a divorce can be difficult at best. Yet parents must be able to talk to each other regarding the important issues revolving around their children. While texting may be a fast way to talk, it may not always provide enough information. Set a weekly date on which each parent e-mails the other about the children, their schoolwork, activities, and other important information.

Discuss How Modifications Are to Be Made

One thing is certain, things are going to change. As children get older and their activities and interests develop there will be a need to revisit some of the plans that you have already made. It is best to include details of how parents are to go about requesting modifications in the parenting plan. When parents agree to the changes it should be done in writing. In some instances one parent may not agree to the requested change. These issues may need to be resolved through the family court system.

Parents should utilize a parenting plan as part of their divorce agreement. Consult with the skilled divorce lawyers at Udall Shumway PLC to discuss your case.

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 Should Be Detailed, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to, 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.