If you are co-parenting and would like a written agreement setting out the arrangements for your child/children, then you might want to think about a Parenting Plan.
A Parenting Plan sets out the agreed arrangements for caring for your child/children. The plan will cover both current and future arrangements. The plan can assist in providing certainty and avoiding future disputes as it is a written record of the agreements made between you as parents.
Despite not being legally binding, it can provide a clear framework for your arrangements and it helps you plan for future events and possible areas of dispute that may arise.
What can a Parenting Plan include?
- General principles
- Weekday and weekend contact
- Contact dates and times
- How holidays will be shared
- How Christmas/Easter and birthdays will be shared
- Choice of schools for the child/children
- How the parents will contact each other and co-operate on illness and medical emergencies
- How to address disputes
Why should I have a Parenting Plan?
If you would like clear and regular arrangements set up for your children and you want to avoid legal proceedings, then a Parenting Plan is a good option. It provides greater flexibility than a Court Order. It is easier to review, amend and update in the future by mutual agreement of the parents.
The alternative of going to court to seek a Child Arrangements Order is both costly and stressful for both parents and the child/children. It will impact on the relationship between the parents making it difficult to co-parent the child/children effectively even when the Court proceedings have concluded. A Parenting Plan can facilitate healthy co-parenting by setting out clear boundaries and focusing on the best interests of your child/children.
Your arrangements for the Parenting Plan can be agreed between you as parents but if that proves difficult these arrangements can be negotiated between solicitors. When you have reached a satisfactory agreement, that plan will be put in writing. It will also be signed by you both as parents and retained for your records. If the child arrangements were to break down at some time in the future, then you would be able to produce the Parenting Plan to the Court as good evidence of what the arrangements were before they broke down.
If you would like to have a Parenting Plan drawn up or would like to discuss the benefits of having one, please get in touch with Frances Steel or Sophie Francis. They are both experienced in advising and negotiating Parenting Plans. They can be contacted on their emails address as follows: