Parents do not often think of writing down a parenting plan when the family lives together. Somehow, the family muddles through, sorting out the parenting arrangements on an ad hoc basis and dealing with the occasional crises when they arise. However, the best London children solicitors will tell you that if parents decide to separate or divorce preparing a parenting plan can reduce a lot of stress and even avoid the need to start children court proceedings.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a written document agreed by parents after a separation
to set out how they plan to parent their children.
A parenting plan is not a court order and it does not stop either parent from starting children court proceedings and applying for a child arrangements order. However, if parents are able to agree what should go in their parenting plan, there is less likelihood of either one of them starting court proceedings for a child arrangements order.
May parents do not think that they have any alternative but to apply to court for custody or access orders (now called child arrangements orders) because they are not able to sit down with their husband, wife or former partner to agree the day to day arrangements for their children. However, it is often possible to agree a parenting plan with the help of a family mediator or experienced London children solicitor.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
The family law
team at OTS Solicitors advise on all aspects of family and children
law and have particular experience in helping parents reach agreement and compromise on parenting plans. If parents cannot reach agreement OTS Solicitors provide representation in applications for child arrangements orders, other types of children court proceedings and international children law cases.
For advice and help in drawing up a parenting plan or for children law advice please get in touch with us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London children solicitors.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is different for every family. That is because it is designed for your family and each family and their routines and any house rules are different.
The best London children solicitors will tell you that the purpose of a parenting plan is to outline how you and your spouse or former partner will co-parent your children and share in their care and upbringing after your separation
Is a parenting plan only necessary if parents are co-parenting?
Many parents worry about agreeing to “co-parenting”. However, the top London children solicitors will tell you that co-parenting does not mean that the children spend an equal amount of time with each parent. All co-parenting means is that parents will cooperate and work together in the parenting of their children. That is important for a child whether there is an equal shared parenting arrangement or alternate weekend contact. Parenting plans are therefore useful for all separated families.
What goes into a parenting plan?
The best London children solicitors will tell you that the parenting plan can contain whatever you want, as it is your plan, your life and your children. However, specialist London children solicitors and mediators will advise you on the area or topics that it is helpful to include in a parenting plan and help you reach a compromise so you can agree the parenting plan.
Some of the topics that are covered in parenting plans include:
• Parenting Time: who will the children spend nights, weekends, holidays, and special occasions (such as Christmas, Eid, Passover or Sukkot) or birthdates with?
• Decision-Making Responsibilities: who can make decisions on the children's behalf? Sometimes this topic is not about major decision-making but, for example, who decides when the children need a haircut or which parent is responsible for sorting out trips to the dentist.
• Issues Related to the Children's Well-Being: this covers a range of topics such as childcare, attendance at sporting activities or cubs or brownies, religious observance , diet and bedtimes, overnight guests, to name but a few.
• Exceptions to Parenting Agreements: there will be times when arrangements need to change, for example, when a parent has an unexpected work trip, evening business commitment, a child is ill and cannot go to school, or there is a problem with childcare cover. Whilst the parenting plan cannot cover every eventuality, it should cover how you will communicate with one another and reach agreement.
• Moving on: many parents assume that once they have set out the parenting arrangements in the parenting plan things will stay the same. However, even if neither one of you anticipates change it may occur. For example, you may form a new relationship or may need to move house because of a new job or change the contact arrangements because of a new work schedule. Whilst the parenting plan cannot anticipate all eventualities, it can say how you will communicate changes to your life and how you will discuss the impact of those changes on the parenting plan.
Your parenting plan
Every parenting plan should be different as every family has different views on issues such as their children’s diet, homework routine, bedtimes, iPhone and iPad usage and house rules. Whether the care of children is shared equally between parents or there is additional childcare cover from grandparents helping out or from a nanny or au pair or one parent only gets to see the children every few weeks because of geographical distances, it is important that the children have consistent parenting and routine.
For some parents discussion about routine can feel like they are being dictated to. Other parents can feel that as they look after the children for the majority of the time their views on parenting are the only important view. That is why many parents need the help of an experienced London children solicitor to help them reach a compromise. That way they can agree on a parenting plan that works for their family
The best London children solicitors will tell you that constructing a parenting plan is not easy. The parenting plan needs to be detailed enough so that it is clear and easy to follow yet flexible enough to allow for exceptions and emergencies and to evolve as children get older or new relationships are formed.
The best London children solicitors will advise you that there is no set formula to enable parents to create the ideal parenting plan and parenting schedule. That is because each family is unique and your plan needs to meet the needs of your children and family.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
OTS Solicitors advise on all aspects of family and children
law and have particular experience in helping parents agree parenting plans, representation in applications for child arrangements orders and international children law cases.
OTS Solicitors provide specialist divorce, family and children law advice especially where there are children and international elements. For advice and help in drawing up a parenting plan please get in touch with us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced family and children solicitors.