Your Basic Parenting Plan Worksheet



mom and toddler

This basic parenting plan worksheet will help you think through the numerous issues related to developing a plan that actually works for your family.

The questions are organized by clusters of issues that you and your child's other parent will likely want to address. The issues for this worksheet are: residence, extracurricular activities, spiritual life, medical and dental care, financial,holidays, school and miscellaneous items. Use this worksheet to prepare yourself for a discussion with your child's other parent or your attorney. If a question doesn't apply to your situation, simply skip over it and move on to the next question.

PARENTING PLAN: RESIDENCE

  • If you have more than one child, is it important to you that they not be separated?

  • Do you believe your children should live primarily with you or with the other parent? If the children were to live with you, what efforts would you make to ensure that they spend time with and have a meaningful relationship with the other parent? If your children were to live primarily with the other parent, what efforts would you expect the other parent to make to ensure that your children spend time and have a meaningful relationship with you?

  • Assuming the children were to live with you, when should they spend time with the other parent? Weekends? Weeknights? Summer? Other?

  • Assuming the children were to live with the other parent, when should they spend time with you? Weekends? Weeknights? Summer? Other?

  • What are your thoughts regarding the amount of time your children spend on the telephone with the other parent when they are with you? Address frequency and length. Would you like a set time for the calls or can they be spontaneous? Should the residential parent agree not to interfere with or listen in on these calls? If applicable, who is responsible for the cost of the phone calls?

  • If childcare or baby sitting is needed, do you want the other parent to have the first right of refusal? If so, how will you communicate about his? How far in advance will you need to make the request?

  • Do you intend to continue living in the same area until the children are adults? If you were to move, where might it be?

  • How closely should the two of you live to each other while your children are growing up?

  • What restrictions or agreements should the two of you make, if any, about what happens if one of you moves from the area?

  • If you are separated by distance, whose responsibility is it to pay for the children to travel? Should there be an adjustment to child support?

PARENTING PLAN: EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

  • Are there particular sports or activities that are important to each of your children? Related to each activity, is one or the other of you more oriented toward that sport/activity than the other?

  • Are there particular sports or activities in which your children should not participate, or should not participate until a given age? If so, what are they and why?

  • How will you communicate with each other about your children's activities?

  • How will you decide who will pay for each sport and activity?

  • Do you believe that the number of activities in which your children participate should be limited?

  • Are you comfortable with both parents attending activities? If not, how will you work out who attends when?

PARENTING PLAN: SPIRITUAL LIFE

  • What kind of spiritual involvement do you want your children to have? What level of attendance in church, synagogue, or mosque is important to you?

  • If you disagree with your co-parent about spiritual matters for your children, how will you resolve the disagreement?

  • Do you believe that your children should attend the same church, synagogue or mosque regardless of which parent is with them during the weekend? If not, should there be any requirement or restriction about attendance? If so, are there any agreements you need to make to avoid conflict?

  • Are there activities during the week in which you want your children to be involved?

PARENTING PLAN: MEDICAL AND DENTAL CARE

  • What health insurance arrangements should be made for your children?

  • How will you pay for health expenses not covered by insurance?

  • How will you select medical and dental providers?

  • Do you want both parents to have access to medical reports, advance notice of examinations, notification of emergency care and the right to seek independent visits with care providers?

  • How do you feel about having the other parent attend medical appointments for your children with you?

  • How will you handle disagreements?

PARENTING PLAN: FINANCIAL ISSUES

  • How will the two of you share the costs of supporting your children?

  • Which of you will claim which children as tax deductions?

  • What general savings (in addition to or separate from college costs) should be set aside for your children? Who is responsible to contribute to them and who should manage the funds?

PARENTING PLAN: HOLIDAYS

  • What special arrangements would you like for holidays? Make a list of the holidays that are important for you to share with your children?

  • How would you like to handle your children's birthdays? Your birthday? the birthdays of extended family members?

  • How do you propose handling the holidays that both of you want?

PARENTING PLAN: SCHOOL

  • Do you believe that your children should remain in their current school system?

  • Should both parents have access to grade reports, notice of school events, extracurricular events, and visits with teachers? Can both parents visit children in class, on occasion join them for lunch, volunteer in class, and attend field trips?

  • How will you handle sick days, school break days and snow (or other weather-related) days off?

  • Should the two of you consult with each other about major educational decisions? If you do not consult with each other, how will you notify the other parent when a decision has been made?

  • What arrangements must be made now for higher education?

PARENTING PLAN: MISCELLANEOUS ISSUES

  • Are there particular relatives or friends with whom it is important for your children to spend time and maintain a relationship? Are there people with whom it is important that they not spend time?

  • Are there stepparents or stepchildren with whom it is important for your children to spend time and maintain a relationship?

  • Understanding that all couples who have chosen to divorce experience some level of conflict and difficulty communicating, are there particular issues that need to be addressed as you develop your parenting plan?

  • How would you prefer the other parent contact you? Telephone at work? Telephone at home? Mail? E-mail? Fax? A third party? Other?

  • What restrictions would you like each other to follow in communicating with the children about the marriage or the other parent? Will you agree not to criticize the other to the children? Should you agree not to use the children to deliver messages or information to or from the other parent? Do you want to agree not to discuss divorce issues or money issues with your children? What other understandings or arrangements would you like to have with each other?

This is only the Beginning!

Use this worksheet as a way to jump start your deliberations about your parenting plan. Tailor it to meet your particular family's needs. And please remember that a parenting plan is a dynamic document. It will need to grow with your children. Decisions that you make when your child is 3 for example, will likely have to be revisited several times before high school graduation. Keep your parenting plan child-focused and you will have very grateful children.



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