Well Thought Out Parenting Plans Are Key to Successful Single Parenting
By Billie Tarascio & James Baldock
If you’re a parent in the midst of a divorce or separation, one of the most important
steps you can take is to develop a solid parenting plan. A parenting plan is
essentially a set of written guidelines and expectations for raising your kids. Not
only is a parenting plan a good idea, it’s the law. Oregon law requires a parenting
plan in court cases involving parenting time.
One of the most common problems in family law practice and custody disputes is
inconsistent or non-concise parenting plans. The legal requirements of a parenting
plan are minimal – a plan must simply specify how much time a child will spend
with a non-custodial parent. However, with parenting plans, as with many things in
life, the devil is in the details.
Parenting time or visitation is the single most contested issue in parenting plans.
Imagine a parenting plan that merely states a non-custodial parent can spend 24
hours each week with his or her child. A vague plan leads to endless complications
and disagreements among parents and there are countless questions to consider.
What day and time of the week will the visitation begin? Is it the same time each
week? Where are the pick-up and drop-off locations? What if the child decides to
take piano lessons during the visitation time agreed upon in the parenting plan? Will
there be weeknight visits? Will there be overnight weekend visits? How often will
these visits take place?
As with many aspects of a parenting plan, consistency is a key factor in developing a
visitation schedule that works for everyone involved. A consistent, comprehensive
parenting plan can also save parents time and money on post-decree modifications
to enforcement, child support, custody and parenting time. Strong plans can relieve
and prevent stress and tension among parents. Most importantly, good parenting
plans are good for children. It’s beneficial for children to see their parents working
together in a cohesive, respectful manner on important issues that come up daily
while raising a child.
Some of the areas to consider in developing a successful parenting plan include:
Residential schedule – Where will your child live? Will one home be
considered a primary residence? Will the schedule be the same every week of
the month? Will it change on weekends?
Transportation – How will your child get from one home to the other?
Which parent will purchase airline tickets if flying is involved? Will a parent accompany a child during travel? Who can and cannot be present during exchanges? Don’t forget details such as child safety seats.
Special occasions – How will your child spend special occasions such as
birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? Are there other family members’
birthdays to consider?
Holiday plans – How will your children will spend each holiday? Will the
schedule stay the same year to year? Will you alternate holidays? Which
holidays are most important to each parent?
School vacations – What will your child do during school vacations? Consider
winter break, spring break and summer break? Will the schedule change
from year to year? Don’t forget to include in-service days and school
Once you have your carefully thought out parenting plan, you’re not done yet.
Consider how you will deal with changes to your schedule as they inevitably
arise and think about the details of day-to-day life that will come up? Can visits or
vacations be rescheduled? Are phone calls to the other parent acceptable during
visits? What are the terms of email communication? How is decision-making
There are many other special considerations that could come up. For example, how
will you handle food allergies, extracurricular activities and social interactions?
What happens if either of you decides to relocate? What are the legal considerations
to relocation or to other changes made to a plan once it’s been established?
As you can see, there are countless questions that may arise in the process of
developing and carrying out a parenting plan. At our firm we believe that parents
themselves often do the best job of determining the complex needs of their children.
We also recognize that there may be a time when parents need legal assistance. If
you have a question about developing a parenting plan or want to know more about
other areas of family law, we encourage you to contact us or another qualified legal
James Baldock is a senior attorney at Tarascio & Del Vecchio. Located at 380 Q St. in
Springfield, Tarascio & Del Vecchio specializes in increasing access to justice through
the promotion of low-cost, limited-scope legal services. The firm offers both limited-
scope and full-scope services in a wide variety of practice areas including immigration,
family law, bankruptcy, foreclosure, estate planning, divorce proceedings and business
law. The firm offers a “pay-as-you-go” option, as well as flexibility in customizing
payment and service options to meet the needs and budgets of clients. Contact
Tarascio & Del Vecchio at (877) 512-5872, or firstname.lastname@example.org.