By Ullian Associates of The Law Firm of Ullian & Associates, P.C. on April 21, 2020
A Parenting Plan is the schedule of which parent the children will be with at different times. It contains provisions for the typical weekday and weekend schedule, and a separate schedule for holidays and vacations.
The Parenting Plan for weekdays and weekends can vary widely depending on each parent’s schedule, how far apart they live, their ability to co-parent, and the child’s schedule and ability to transition smoothly between the homes. Parenting Plans can be as flexible and creative as needed. For example, if one party is a firefighter and operates on an eight-day rotating work schedule, then your Parenting Plan can operate on an eight-day schedule. A common parenting schedule is for the non- custodial parent to have the children every other weekend and one weeknight every week, and the other parent (the primary custodial parent) have them the rest of the time. For parents with shared physical custody, a two week Parenting Plan might have the parents alternating weeks, or some variation of this to create substantially equal time for both parents with the children.
The second part of the Parenting Plan is the holiday and vacation schedule. The parties will need to decide how to divide the school vacations so that each parent has time with the children. For holidays, the Parenting Plan depends on what is important to each party. If Easter is important to Parent A and not significant to Parent B, then Parent A should have the children for Easter. When dividing holidays it is sometimes helpful to think about what the parties have done in the past. If Thanksgiving dinner is at noon with Parent A’s family and then the parties typically went to Parent B’s family for a second dinner at 6:00 p.m., then the parties can try to coordinate the same arrangement after the divorce. Another option is for the parents to rotate the holidays so one parent has the children for Thanksgiving in odd numbered years and the other parent has Thanksgiving with the children in even numbered years.
The most important part of any Parenting Plan is determining what is best for the children. You also need to remember that the Parenting Plan is likely to change in the future. A Parenting Plan that works for the parties when the child is five years old, may not work when he or she is a teenager and is busy with extracurricular activities.
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