What is a parenting plan and why is it a good idea to have one?

A parenting plan is a written plan worked out between parents after they separate which covers all the everyday things that arise when parenting.

This includes things like where the child is going to live, their education and their healthcare. The scope of a parenting plan is very broad, and it can be prepared in a way that suits the specific circumstance of the parents and the child. 

A parenting plan also encourages planning for future life events such as meeting new partners or starting a new school. It prompts you to consider future eventualities, which you might not have considered otherwise.

Although a parenting plan is not legally binding, it is a plea agreed between the parties, reflecting what they agree are in the best interests of the children. As such, in the event that either party breaches the agreement, without a legitimate reason, and court proceedings begin, the parenting plan will hold considerable weight and will be the starting point.

A parenting plan provides certainty and enables everyone involved know what is expected of them. The plan can cover;

  • Where the child will live
  • How much time the child spends with each parent
  • How will birthdays or religious holidays are to be shared
  • What the arrangements will be in the school holidays
  • How the costs of things like clothes and school trips will be shared
  • Who will organise routine healthcare such as dentist appointments or doctor’s appointments

So why is it good to have a parenting plan in place?

  • You can agree the arrangements for your children in a way that suits you and your children’s needs best.
  • It removes the invasive and costly process of going to court to decide on child-care arrangements.
  • Going to court can be a stressful process, especially if you need to go several times when new situations arise in the future, which were not considered at the initial hearing.
  • It allows the parents as separating partners to discuss day-to-day arrangements in a calm manner and in a more relaxing environment, without the tense atmosphere of the court.
  • By creating this plan between you as parents, it will encourage communication and create an amicable relationship of which will greatly benefit the children.
  • The parents will be equal when creating the plan and it avoids a situation where one parent feels that the other parent is being favoured by the court.
  • A parenting plan allows for more flexibility than a court order. The plan can be reviewed and changed if necessary, for example if circumstances arise in the future, removing the need for going to court on such points.
  • Your parenting plan will be unique to you and will be agreed according to your current circumstances, so you can make it as detailed as you like. There are also certain circumstances where your children can be involved in the process. We can guide you in relation to this and discuss whether it is appropriate for you and your children.
  • In the event that court proceedings are required in the future, the parenting plan will hold considerable weight and therefore both parties are protected.

Written by Megan Porter, Family Team Paralegal

For more information and to discuss whether a parenting plan could work for you, please contact a member of our family team on 020 8290 0333.

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