How Specific Should Your Parenting Plan Be?

Posted by & filed under Parenting Time.

When devising a parenting plan that will govern the parents of minor children regarding custody and parenting, some parents desire specificity, and others desire flexibility.  All parenting plans have a degree of specificity, and a degree of flexibility, so the issue here is whether you prefer relatively greater specificity or relatively greater flexibility.

An example of a flexible parenting plan is one based largely on the varying work schedule of one or both parents.  Because the parenting time is scheduled around work, it is not possible to set forth very far in advance the specific dates and times the children will spend with each parent.  An example of a specific parenting schedule is one in which one knows right now where the child will be at 10:30am on Christmas morning of 2015.  There are pros and cons to both approaches.

The terms of the parenting plan are there to be enforced, if needed.  So the plan may provide many specifics that the parents do not mutually enforce, such as a firm hour for exchanges, or a specific numbers of days for each parent’s vacations with the children.  The parents may vary from the written plan because both parties find such variances to be mutually acceptable.  It may or may not be necessary for the parents to formally modify the plan to incorporate the changes, depending on (a) whether the change will be ongoing; and (b) whether at some point a dispute will arise about whether the variance is a “done deal” or not.

If the variance is ongoing and/or there is some likelihood of dispute in the future, the plan should be modified in writing, to memorialize the new arrangements. For some parents, to memorialize every variance would be a constant, never-ending task.  So a balance must be struck between the specific aspects and the flexible aspects of the parenting plan.

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