What is a Parenting Plan and Do You Need One?
A Parenting Plan is a written agreement entered into by separated parents setting out how they are going to manage the care of their children and how they will exercise shared parental responsibility.
Going through a separation can be a difficult time, especially when there are young children involved.
When preparing a Parenting Plan, it is important that parents put their children’s best interests first – this is paramount and cannot be stressed enough.
The purpose of a plan is to ensure that the children’s health, educational, religious and emotional needs are met at all times and that the children are able to spend quality time with each of their parents. Not only this, but a Parenting Plan enables children to maintain and develop their relationship with each parent. Parenting Plans encourage parents to work with each other to agree arrangements in relation to their children outside of the court process where possible.
Such plans will generally include arrangements as to where a child is to live and when and who they may spend time with, and when. They can also include provision as to where children will spend half term breaks and school holidays, such as Easter and Christmas.
Other matters such as: non-major and major decisions, school and school fees, school reports, holidays abroad, passports, special occasions, telephone and other indirect contact can also be discussed, agreed and outlined within a Parenting Plan.
For separated parents it is worthwhile spending some time sorting out the holiday arrangements as early as possible, if this has not already been done. This can then minimise any future conflict.
Special occasions, such as birthdays are a magical time for children and any conflict surrounding the arrangements can ruin the celebrations. Therefore, it is recommended that these are agreed in advance.
Each individual family will have slightly different needs and priorities and it is important to work out what works best for everybody involved in the process. The benefit of sorting out the arrangements in advance is significant. This can allow the children (and parents) to focus on enjoying the special time they spend with each other.
A Parenting Plan outlines what is expected and parents can refer back to the plan whenever they wish to do so. Of course, if certain arrangements are not working out, then parents should be prepared to review the plan, if necessary. As the children grow older, it is likely that the plan will need to be adjusted.
Having said this, a Parenting Plan should be drafted as precise as possible, but it is almost inevitable that some eventualities may not be covered. For example, it is extremely unlikely that a parenting plan drafted prior to March 2020 would have reference to what to do in the event of a global pandemic.
When drafting a plan it is a good idea to incorporate some flexibility within it, so that parents can look to review the plan within reason and as mentioned above, circumstances may change in the future.
If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 02080040065, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or using the form below.
The contents of this article is general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.