How To Create Parenting Plans That Work

Creating Parenting Plans That Work

How To Create Parenting Plans That Work

Sharing your children with another parent can be challenging and it can sometimes be hard to deal with frustration after a baby. Split families are common, and when two parents cannot get along to stay married or in a relationship, divorce or separation is the best thing for everyone involved. When children are involved, custody issues can arise, and most families will need to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney to help them set up parenting plans that work. While this task is not always an easy one, an experienced attorney will be able to work with you, and the other parent involved and come up with an arrangement that suits everyone.

The Basic Cycle

This is the first step in creating a parenting plan and the most important. First, an attorney will determine who is the primary physical custodial resident that has the majority of “time-sharing” with the child or children. This is the parent that the children live with (primarily) and will probably spend time with the most. The attorney will then determine how the parents usually cycle or exchange the children. If there is already a cycle in place, the attorney may just draft around what is currently in place. If there is no current cycle of visitation established, the attorney will work to create a cycle based on the child’s best interest, as well as each parent’s schedule. Examples of common parenting cycles include:

Weekly Cycle – Parents exchange children on a weekly basis. The custodial parent keeps children during the week, and the low-time parent has the children during the weekend, typically from Saturday morning to Sunday evening.

Biweekly Cycle – Parents exchange children every two weeks. The custodial parent keeps children for two full weeks and one weekend before the low-time parent has the children for a weekend. This is an every other weekend arrangement.

Alternating Cycle – This cycle is common in shared or joint parenting plans. Both parents take turns keeping the children for one full week and exchange the children every week so that each parent has the children for the same amount of time.

All parenting plans are different and are based on the wants and needs of the parents as well as the best interest of the children. There are many variations of these plans, and an attorney will work with you to determine which is the best cycle for your family.

Holidays and Special Occasions

Parents are often concerned about who will get the children for which holidays, so it is important to make arrangements for holidays and special occasions in your parenting plans. An attorney will consider the age of the child and the types of holidays and special occasions that each parent expects to celebrate. In most cases, each parent will get the children for certain holidays on an odd or even year. The holidays may be alternated each year so that one year the custodial parent has their children for Christmas but not Easter but the next year that parent has the child for Easter instead of Christmas. Some parents prefer to share their children on each holiday. Most attorneys will strive for consistency in a parenting plan and base the holiday and special occasions arrangement on that need.


There are two important things that attorneys consider when arranging for vacations within a parenting plan. The first is a parent’s vacation from work and the second is the children’s vacation from school. In most plans, both parents are granted a week of vacation based on their time off of work. The length and amount of vacations can be negotiated. Custody arrangements based on the children’s vacation from school are arranged differently. As always, an attorney will work to make sure a consistent routine is established for the sake of the children. Many parents keep their usual cycle even during vacations, but those cycles can be adapted to allow the low-time parent to see the children more during their vacation from school. Attorneys are always happy to work out the details of a vacation cycle with parents as long as the cycle proves to be in the best interest of the children and will not cause them confusion or stress.

Having a parenting plan can help separated and divorced spouses avoid going to court for custody situations or arguing about their custody or visitation schedule. A parenting plan is also less confusing to children and allows everyone in the family to know what to expect and plan for on a daily and even yearly basis. Although parenting plans can seem complicated, an attorney can help you work out the terms of your plan and make sure that it is detailed and structured to cover all aspects of parenting, custody, and visitation. Family law attorneys know how to create and adjust parenting plans to meets the needs of everyone involved. Don’t be intimidated by the time and effort involved in creating the plan, it will all pay off in the end and help make parenting easier, in the long run.