Creating Stability for Separated Couples: Parenting Plans

Photograph of Sue McArthur

Posted: 12th June 2024
by Sue McArthur

What is a Parenting Plan?

A Parenting Plan is a document that details how divorced or separated couples will share the care of their children. It outlines an agreed parenting strategy, including time-sharing arrangements and other daily matters. The plan is a written agreement between parents, which shows how they intend to raise their children after separation.

The idea of creating a Parenting Plan is to give both parents an opportunity to have a say in their child’s care and ultimately to provide a stable environment for their children. It is a proactive way for parents to agree on how they will co-parent and show that they are both committed to putting the welfare of their children first. Put simply, if parents can cooperate and work together on a parenting strategy, it’s more likely to result in better outcomes for their children.

How can a Parenting Plan benefit separated couples?

Some of the main benefits of creating a Parenting Plan include:

  • Flexibility and consistency in parenting styles
  • Reducing conflict between newly separated couples
  • Better Communication and reduced stress
  • Acting as an aid during the Mediation process

A Parenting Plan can provide the framework for parents to be flexible when planning time with their children. It can also outline methods for making changes to the schedule as they arise over time. By having a documented plan, separated couples can also reduce the instances of conflict between them.

When both parties are on the same page with regards to child arrangements, it promotes consistency in the child’s life. When parents know what to expect, it minimizes the likelihood of misunderstandings that can lead to conflict, lessening stress and tension between them. Being able to rely on the schedules outlined in the plan also provides children with a sense of stability and continuity, making the transition from one household to the other easier.

Creating a Parenting Plan requires open communication between both parties to come to a mutual understanding about parenting issues. It provides a platform for working together to make decisions on issues such as schooling, medical care, and extracurricular activities. The plan can maximize the success of communication between parents as it requires them to discuss and agree on various issues related to their child or children.

A Parenting Plan can become a critical document in mediation, which is an alternative to court hearings. In the mediation process, couples can work together with a neutral mediator to try to reach an agreement. They can discuss and smooth out any points of disagreement on their parenting plan and find mutual solutions to improve their child’s quality of life.

How and when should you write a Parenting Plan?

A Parenting Plan can be drawn up by the separated couple themselves, their solicitors or a mediator. Even if parents are going through court proceedings, they can draft a parenting plan outside of court hearings as a helpful tool. In either process, it is important to prioritise the interests of the child.

Parents going through separation should create a parenting plan as soon as possible, and ideally before they visit the family court. Doing so will ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of what they are agreeing to and will provide a framework to draw from in the future if complications arise. If separated couples create a parenting plan during the mediation process, it can be sent to the court when asking for a consent order to be approved.

Creating a Parenting Plan is essential for stable co-parenting solution. It provides a predictable schedule for children, ensures smoother transitions from one household to the other, and minimizes conflict between parties. Setting up a Parenting Plan with a mediator or with the aid of a family solicitor can make life easier for separated and divorced couples. It’s an essential document that should be taken seriously because it takes care of the most critical aspect of the separation, which is the children’s welfare.

Useful Links

Below are links to two great templates of Parenting Plans that separated couples should consider using.


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