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Important Details to Include in Parenting Plan

happy father and son with blueprint at workshop

Your parenting plan sets the basic rules for your custody-sharing arrangement following your divorce or custody dispute. Having a clear, comprehensive parenting plan can help you avoid future uncertainty and conflict with your spouse, and it can provide security for your children by establishing a regular schedule. Below, we discuss several of the important items that your parenting plan should cover. If you need assistance with a divorce or child custody dispute, call a seasoned New Jersey child custody attorney for advice and representation.

Parenting Time Schedule (Visitation Schedule)

The meat of the parenting plan will cover the parenting time schedule. The schedule will lay out on a regular basis where the children will reside on a given day. The schedule should reflect the custody order or agreement, giving each parent their requisite amount of time with the children.

A typical 50/50 arrangement might, for example, include one of the following schedules:

  • Alternating full weeks
  • Weekdays with one parent and weekends with the other
  • 4-3 alternating
  • 2-2-3 alternating
  • 3-4-4-3 alternating

Work with your co-parent and your attorneys to develop a schedule that fits your needs, including your respective work schedules, your living arrangements, and your children’s educational and extracurricular schedules.

Plans for Exchanging the Kids

The plan should cover how the kids will be exchanged between the parents. If the parents are amicable toward one another, they can simply drop the kids off at one another’s house or plan to pick them up. If the relationship is more strained, an exchange at a designated middle location between the parents might be advisable.

Communication Protocols

If the parents are on genial terms, it might not be important to specify how communications between the parents should be handled. If the parents have a high-conflict or strained relationship, however, it’s helpful to set ground rules. They can agree to communicate via email only or to use certain scheduling applications that allow people to notify others.

Summertime Schedule

Children’s schedules change drastically during the summertime when they are no longer in school. A comprehensive parenting plan should account for the change in schedule, if necessary. One parent may have more flexibility to supervise the children during the daytime, or one or both parents might plan for summer trips. The children might go to camp or stay with another relative.


The parenting schedule should plan ahead for holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Passover. The parents may choose to alternate years with the kids on those days, or they may decide that each parent gets the kids on certain major holidays.

Religious Upbringing

Parenting plans can cover more than just scheduled visitation. The parents should work to agree on what involvement religion will play in the child’s life, to avoid conflict down the line. If one parent plans to take the children to church every Sunday, or if a parent wants to enroll the children in Hebrew school, the parenting plan should reflect as much.

Other Travel and Vacations

The parenting plan should account for non-standard travel and vacations. Regular holidays are a known quantity, but sudden trips out of town can create stress and conflict. The plan should include a structure for taking other trips and vacations, including what permissions must be requested, what trips can be taken without asking for permission so long as enough advance notice is given, and other limitations.

Medical Decisions and Emergency Protocols

The parenting plan can include protocols for how medical decisions are made, by whom, and how each parent should be notified and become involved. Even a parent without primary physical custody has the right to be involved in important medical decisions for their kids, so long as they retain shared legal custody.

Call Today for Experienced Advice and Effective Representation for Your New Jersey Child Custody Dispute

If you’re building a parenting plan, or if you’re dealing with issues involving parental rights, divorce, equitable division of property, alimony/spousal support, child support, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the dedicated and diligent Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation.

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