What is a parenting plan?

When married or unmarried parents of a minor child end their relationship, formal child custody and child support arrangements need to be established by a Connecticut family court. Not so long ago, a straightforward award of sole, primary or joint custody – along with a relatively formulaic child support determination – was made by the court and that was that. Nowadays, most co-parenting arrangements are also governed by a legally-enforceable parenting plan. 

A parenting plan can be created as a custom document by co-parents and their attorneys. Co-parents can also opt to fill out the state’s standardized parenting plan form. In the event that no consensus on mutually-agreeable terms can be reached by both parties without judicial intervention, the court will craft whatever parenting plan terms it believes best reflects a child’s best interests. 

Crafting a workable parenting plan

Generally speaking, parenting plans outline the rights, responsibilities and practical “ins and outs” of a co-parenting arrangement. Common subjects frequently outlined in parenting plans include parenting time schedules, division of parenting time during the holidays, transportation logistics and which parent is responsible for coordinating extracurricular involvement. However, these documents can address any subjects that co-parents believe should be formalized and made enforceable. 

If you are in a position wherein you need to craft a parenting plan, you’ll want to keep two issues at the forefront of your process: Your child’s best interests and whether the terms you’re crafting are truly manageable. In the event that there is any dispute about the terms of a plan, the court will resolve that dispute according to your child’s best interests. And, if you don’t make the terms of your plan manageable, you’ll likely end up back in court seeking to modify them anyway. 

Parenting plans can be very effective resources for co-parents who need a clear guidepost for how to manage the challenges of their situation. Yet, if it is not constructed thoughtfully, problems could arise down the road. That’s why legal guidance is wise.