Legal Blog

What is a Parenting Plan?

silhouette of little girl holding parent hand at sunsetA parenting plan is a document that outlines how separated or divorced parents will share the responsibilities of raising their children. It typically covers various aspects of parenting, including custody arrangements, visitation schedules, decision-making authority, and other important matters related to the children’s upbringing.

Here are some key components typically included in a parenting plan:

  1. Custody Arrangements: This section specifies where the children will reside and with whom. It may outline whether the parents will have joint physical custody (where the children spend significant time with both parents) or if one parent will have primary physical custody while the other has visitation rights.
  2. Visitation Schedule: The parenting plan usually includes a detailed schedule outlining when the children will spend time with each parent. This schedule may cover regular visitation as well as holidays, vacations, and special occasions.
  3. Decision-Making Authority: The plan may address which parent has decision-making authority regarding important aspects of the children’s lives, such as education, medical, religious, and extracurricular activities. In some cases, parents may share decision-making responsibilities jointly.
  4. Communication Guidelines: The parenting plan may include guidelines for communication between parents regarding the children, including how and when they will communicate, and how they will handle disagreements or conflicts.
  5. Transportation and Exchange Arrangements: This section outlines how the children will be transported between parents’ homes for visitation and exchange times. It may specify responsibilities for transportation and any safety considerations.
  6. Financial Responsibilities: The plan may address how the parents will share financial responsibilities for the children, including child support payments, health insurance coverage, and other expenses related to their care and upbringing.
  7. Dispute Resolution: The parenting plan may include provisions for resolving disputes or disagreements that may arise between the parents regarding the implementation of the plan. This could involve mediation, arbitration, or other methods of alternative dispute resolution.

Parenting plans are often created through negotiation between the parents, with the assistance of attorneys or through mediation. Once agreed upon, the plan is typically submitted to the court for approval and incorporation into a formal custody order. The goal of a parenting plan is to promote the best interests of the children while providing clarity and structure for co-parenting after separation or divorce.


Heather Scalzo is a family court litigator with 20 years of courtroom experience. She represents clients in all aspects of family law, including divorce matters, child and spousal support actions, child custody cases, adoptions, abuse and neglect cases brought by DSS and juvenile criminal defense cases.