Sample Parenting Plans:
Ideas to Implement


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These sample parenting plans are offered merely as guidelines. You will of course want to customize the plan you end up using to best fit your family"s needs.

The following professionals have made tremendous contributions to helping divorced families navigate the often-muddy waters of parenting after divorce. We respectfully offer summaries of their sample parenting plans.

Robert Emery, Ph.D

Dr. Emery distinguishes between three types of divorce:

  • The Angry Divorce
  • The Distant Divorce
  • The Cooperative Divorce

Each requires a distinct parenting plan and we have included here sample parenting plans for each type of divorce. Emery also separates his sample parenting plans according to the developmental stage of the child.

Dr. Emery defines the Angry Divorce in this way: Couples in angry divorces feel rage and pain vividly, have trouble letting go of the marriage, and may be so enmeshed in conflict that emotionally they are as involved in each other's lives as they were when together.

According to Emery, in The Distant Divorce parents keep their marital conflict pretty well hidden from their children. Many parents with a distant divorce are extremely hurt and angry or frustrated and resentful, and the distance helps keep their rumbling volcanoes from erupting. Distant divorcers are child centered and competent parents. In fact it may be their commitment to their children that keeps them from going to war.

And in Emery's definition, Cooperative Divorces are rare at least in the beginning. Cooperative divorces generally involve parents who understand children and empathize with their feelings, and who accept their responsibility as parents. They have done a good job of protecting children from marital conflict.

Now let's apply these considerations to some sample parenting plans.

Sample Parenting Plan for Children under 18 months:

Angry Divorce

  • Every Saturday from 11:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., including an afternoon nap.

  • Every Saturday from 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M.; every Wednesday from 3:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M., picked up from daycare and returned to other parent's home.

Distant Divorce

  • Every Saturday from 11:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., including an afternoon nap; every Wednesday evening from 4:30 P.M. until 6:30 P.M., perhaps spending some time at the residential parent's home.

  • Every Saturday from 2:00 P.M. until 6:00P.M.; every Monday and Wednesday from 3:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M., picked up at daycare and returned to other parent's home.

Cooperative Divorce

  • Every Saturday from 11:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., including an afternoon nap; every Monday and Wednesday evening from 4:30 P.M. until 7:30 P.M.; some contact/feeding/bedtime takes place at residential parent's home.

  • Two weekdays from 8:00 A.M. until 1:00P.M. (substituting for child care); every Saturday from 11:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M.; occasional Saturday overnights if the baby seems to tolerate them well.

Sample Parenting Plan for Toddlers: - 18 months to 3 Years

Angry Divorce

  • Every Saturday from 2:00 P.M. until 6:00 P.M. Overnight until 10:00 A.M. on alternate Saturdays.

  • Every other weekend from 2:00 P.M. on Saturday, with an overnight until 11:00 A.M. on Sunday. Alternate Monday evenings from 5:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. on the Monday following the weekend spent with the residential parent.

Distant Divorce

  • Every Saturday from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., including a nap. Overnight until 9:00 A.M. on alternate Sundays. Every Wednesday evening from 4:30 P.M. until 6:30 P.M.

Cooperative Divorce

  • Every Saturday from 10:00 A.M. until 10:00 A.M. Sunday. Every Monday and Wednesday evening from 4:30 P.M. until 7:30 P.M.; some contact/feeding/bedtime takes place at residential parent's home.

  • Two weekdays from 1:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M. (substituting for child care); every other Friday from 1:00 P.M. until 12:00 P.M. on Saturday.

Sample Parenting Plan for Preschoolers - 3-5 years

Angry Divorce

  • Every Saturday from 11:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. on Sunday.

  • Every other weekend from 5:00 P.M. on Friday until 1:00 P.M. on Sunday. Alternate Mondays from 5:00 P.M. until 7:30 P.M. on the Monday following the weekend spent with the residential parent.

Distant Divorce

  • Every Saturday from 11:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. on Sunday. Every other Wednesday evening from 4:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.

  • Every other weekend from 5:00 P.M. on Friday until 3:00 P.M. on Sunday. Every Monday and Wednesday from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. picked up and returned to day care.

Cooperative Divorce

  • Two weekdays from 1:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M (substituting for child care). Overnights every Thursday night. Every other weekend Thursday from 1:00 P.M. until 2:00 P.M. on Sunday.

  • Every Thursday from 5:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Saturday.

Sample Parenting Plan for Early School Age Children from 6-9 Years

Angry Divorce

  • Every Friday from after school until 5:00 P.M. Saturday.

  • Every other weekend from 5:00 P.M. Friday until 4:00 P.M. Sunday. Alternate Mondays from 5:00 P.M. until 7:30 P.M. on the Monday following the weekend spent with the residential parent.

Distant Divorce

  • Every Friday from after school until 5:00 P.M. Saturday. Every Monday evening from 4:30 P.M. until 7:30 P.M.

  • Every other weekend from 5:00 P.M. Thursday until 4:00 P.M. Sunday. Alternate Thursday evenings from 5:00 P.M. until 7:30 P.M.

Cooperative Divorce

  • Every Thursday from 5:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Saturday.

  • Every Wednesday from 3:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Saturday with one parent; every Saturday at 5:00P.M. until 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday with the other parent.

  • Every Monday and Tuesday with one parent; every Wednesday and Thursday with the other parent. Alternate weekends from Friday through Sunday with each parent.

Sample Parenting Plan for Late School-Age Children from 10 - 12 Years

Angry Divorce

  • Every other weekend from 5:00 P.M. on Friday until 4:00 P.M. on Sunday. Alternate Mondays from 5:00 P.M. until 7:30 P.M. on the Monday following the weekend spent with the residential parent.

Distant Divorce

  • Every other weekend from 5:00 P.M. on Thursday until 4:00 P.M. on Sunday. Every Monday evening from 4:30 P.M. until 7:30 P.M.

Cooperative Divorce

  • Every Wednesday from 3:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Saturday with one parent; every Saturday from 5:00 P.M. until 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday with the other parent.

  • Alternate weeks with each parent with exchanges on either Fridays or Sundays.

Sample Parenting Plans for Adolescents from 13 to 18

Angry Divorce

  • Every other weekend from 5:00 P.M. on Friday until 4:00 P.M. on Sunday. Some flexible contact is possible during other times.

Distant Divorce

  • Every other weekend from 5:00 P.M. on thursday until 4:00 P.M. on Sunday. Dinner on the "off" Thursday, plus some flexible contact during other times.

Cooperative Divorce

  • Every Wednesday from 3:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Saturday with one parent; every Saturday from 5:00 P.M. until 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday with the other parent with more flexibility to meet teenager's own needs.

  • Alternate weeks with each parent with some flexible contact.

These sample parenting plans provide a template and ideas from which to work. The days and times can be adapted to fit your particular schedule.

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