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Tips for Creating a Successful Parenting Plan for Your Child


A parenting plan outlines how parents will raise their children after the parents separate. Most parenting plans include details about how the parents intend to make decisions regarding their child and time-sharing schedule. A workable parenting plan is the key to sharing parenting responsibilities in a way that benefits your child. It is also the most effective way to ensure that both parents remain active participants in their child’s life.

Why Do You Need a Successful Parenting Plan?

The most important reason to take time to draft a successful parenting plan is the well-being of your child. A comprehensive parenting plan benefits your child in several ways:

  • A successful parenting plan provides stability for your child;

  • Your child spends quality time with each parent;

  • Important decisions are not left to chance;

  • Your child maintains a close relationship with extended family;

  • Your child is able to enjoy extra-curricular activities; and,

  • Holidays and vacations are less stressful.

A comprehensive parenting plan gives you peace of mind knowing that your child’s emotional, physical, social, medical, and educational needs are met even though you and your ex-partner are separated.

Elements of a Successful Parenting Plan

Your attorney works with you to draft a successful parenting plan. However, you should give some thought to the terms you want to include in your parenting plan so you can discuss your thoughts with your attorney prior to negotiating the terms of the agreement with the other side. Having clear goals helps you remain focused on developing a plan that is in your child’s best interest but also meets your needs.

Elements you need to have in your parenting plan include:

  • A clear, well-defined schedule for sharing time, including holidays, family vacations, summer, and school holidays;

  • Explanation of how your child will communicate with the other parent while he or she is with you;

  • A plan for who makes decisions regarding your child (i.e. education, extra-curricular, medical, etc.) and how to communicate those decisions to the other parent;

  • A financial responsibilities plan for each parent, including who pays for health insurance, deductibles, extra-curricular activities, tuition, daycare, and who receives the income tax deductions;

  • Who attends medical and dental appointments;

  • Who attends appointments regarding school;

  • A system for sharing information regarding your child (i.e. emails, texts, telephone calls, etc.);

  • A plan for how to handle conflicts or changes to the parenting plan; and,

  • A plan for sharing time with extended family.

Each parenting plan is unique. You and your ex-partner need to remember that no “one size fits all” parenting plan exists for every family. Working together to develop a plan that meets the needs of each parent regarding work schedules, social obligations, and other responsibilities is the best way to ensure that you spend as much quality time with your child as possible.

Furthermore, being flexible during and after developing your parenting plan is the key to making a parenting plan work. Understand that as your child grows up, his or her needs will change. You will also have changes in your life that may require modifications of the parenting plan.

Modifying a Parenting Plan

By drafting a detailed and focused parenting plan, you reduce the risk of future conflicts. In the case of a conflict, your parenting plan should include ways to resolve conflicts in the best interest of your child. However, some conflicts may not be able to be resolved outside of court.

If you find that your current parenting plan is not working, you may need to modify the plan. When the other parent will not agree to a parenting plan modification, contact a parenting plan modification lawyer to discuss the process of modifying your existing custody agreement.

Contact a Jacksonville Child Custody Lawyer

A parenting plan can be difficult to draft when parents are unable to come to an agreement regarding custody terms. Our custody attorneys are skilled negotiators who help you work through your differences to draft a parenting plan that is best for you and for your child. If you have a parenting plan and you need to make changes, our parenting plan modification lawyer can help you negotiate those changes or file a motion to modify if your ex-partner refuses to be reasonable.

The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm represents clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a case evaluation.