Legal Blog

Essential Components of a Parenting Plan During Divorce

Divorce can be a challenging experience for families, especially when children are involved. One of the most important aspects of a divorce involving children is the creation of a parenting plan. A parenting plan, also known as a child custody agreement, outlines how parents will share responsibilities and time with their children after a divorce. Crafting a comprehensive and effective parenting plan can help reduce conflict and provide stability for the children. Here are the essential components to include in a parenting plan during a divorce:

  1. Custody Arrangements
    • Physical Custody: Specifies where the child will primarily reside and the schedule for the child’s time with each parent.
    • Legal Custody: Determines which parent (or both) will have the authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
  1. Visitation Schedule
    • Establish a clear schedule for when the child will spend time with each parent, including regular visitation days, holidays, and special occasions such as birthdays.
    • Include details on pick-up and drop-off times and locations to avoid misunderstandings.
  1. Communication
    • Outline expectations for communication between the child and each parent, including phone calls, video chats, or other forms of contact.
    • Specify how parents will communicate with each other about the child, including preferred methods (e.g., email, text) and frequency.
  1. Dispute Resolution
    • Include a process for resolving disputes between parents, such as mediation, counseling, or another neutral third party.
    • Avoid vague language and provide clear steps for conflict resolution to minimize misunderstandings.
  1. Child Support and Financial Provisions
    • Specify the amount and frequency of child support payments, as well as how expenses such as medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and other significant costs will be divided.
    • Address the child’s insurance needs, including health, dental, and vision coverage.
  1. Education and Healthcare
    • Address each parent’s involvement in the child’s education, including school-related decisions and participation in school activities.
    • Specify how healthcare decisions will be made, including the choice of doctors and medical treatments.
  1. Travel and Relocation
    • Define any restrictions on travel with the child, including requirements for notifying the other parent and obtaining consent for trips.
    • Include provisions for what happens if one parent wants to relocate with the child, such as notice periods and mediation.
  1. Review and Modification
    • Establish a process for reviewing and modifying the parenting plan as the child grows and circumstances change.
    • Specify how often the plan will be reviewed (e.g., annually) and under what circumstances modifications can be made.
  1. Safety and Well-Being
    • Address any concerns about the child’s safety, including provisions for supervised visitation if necessary.
    • Include guidelines for both parents regarding any substance abuse issues, criminal activity, or mental health concerns.
  1. Miscellaneous Provisions
    • Consider including clauses for other aspects such as religious upbringing, participation in extracurricular activities, and access to the child’s records (e.g., school, medical).
    • Ensure the plan is as detailed as possible to avoid ambiguity and potential disputes.

A well-thought-out parenting plan can provide a roadmap for co-parenting after divorce and help ensure the child’s best interests are prioritized. Consulting with legal and family professionals can help parents create a comprehensive plan that suits their family’s unique needs.


professional headshot of principal attorney, Sandra Brooks | 240.507.1716

As a family law attorney, Sandra (Sandy) Brooks’ practice focuses on a wide range of aspects in regards to family law. She dedicates her time to assisting clients in domestic law matters including divorce, child custody and visitation, family mediation, spousal and child support, property division, and division of retirement benefits. Other matters that fall under her jurisdiction as a family law attorney include tax consequences of divorce, mediation, prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, negotiating and drafting of separation agreements, domestic litigation, and post-judgment proceedings.