Parenting plans outline the legal rights and responsibilities of separated parents. They also determine specifics about a family’s future, such as communication methods and how to handle emergency situations. As a father in a custody case, it’s often helpful to work with a father’s rights child custody attorney to help ease negotiations between you and your co-parent during a separation case.

Separating or divorcing parents still have significant responsibilities for their children, and a parenting plan helps families navigate the changes of separation more successfully. If parents are unable to create a parenting plan together, the court will make it for them. The court does not understand a family’s unique circumstances as well as parents do, so it’s frequently beneficial for parents to create the plan themselves.

What Should Be in Your Parenting Plan?

Different states have different requirements for what must be contained in a parenting plan. Although it is important to check your specific state’s legal requirements, there are several issues that are important to cover, and they are often required elements of a complete parenting plan. Some of the most important aspects of a parenting plan include:

Physical Custody and Parenting Time Schedule

One of the main purposes of a parenting plan is to outline where children will live and when. If parents have joint custody, their parenting time schedule should try to achieve as close to a 50-50 split as is reasonable and practical. There are many different ways that parents can split up their parenting time, and it may take time to determine which is ideal for a family’s unique schedules and circumstances.

The parenting plan should also get into specifics for the changes throughout the year. For example, it should outline how parents are going to handle different holidays and special occasions. In some cases, parents split holidays or which years they spend those holidays with their kids. Events like spring break or summer break may require unique solutions. Determine what each parent is comfortable with for travel distance and how to communicate vacation plans.

Legal Custody and Important Decisions

When parents have joint legal custody, they both have the legal ability to make important decisions on behalf of their children. These decisions may include where a child receives healthcare, the medical care they can receive, where they attend school, the religion they are raised under, and other decisions.

In a parenting plan, parents can determine how to make those decisions and how to ensure communication and agreement. Certain decisions can be agreed on during the negotiations for the parenting plan.

Financial Responsibility

Child support determinations are an important part of financial responsibility. Parents should determine childcare costs and any unique expenses that the typical formula may not cover. Parents should determine how to cover certain expenses and if there will be shared responsibility for specific expenses. You may want to consider basic costs like food, clothing, and medical care as well as costs like extracurriculars, private tuition, college tuition, and other larger expenses.

Communication and Dispute Resolution

Co-parents, especially those with a joint custody arrangement, will need to communicate with each other. Parents should determine when and how this communication should be had for needs like pick-ups and drop-offs, sharing basic information, and emergencies. Parents should also determine how they can effectively negotiate any disputes or disagreements before going to court.

Future Modifications

A parenting plan should also cover the circumstances in which a modification should be made to the agreement. Changes are a part of life, and they are even more expected in a child’s life. A parenting plan should consider the differing needs throughout the stages of a child’s life and how any modifications should be handled.

It’s important to always hold your children’s interests as the priority when negotiating and creating a parenting plan.


Q: What Deems a Parent to Be Unfit in Missouri?

A: A parent is typically deemed to be unfit in Missouri if they:

  • Do not provide for a child’s basic needs and care.
  • Endanger the child or put them in a situation where the child would be in danger.
  • Otherwise harm the child’s emotional, physical, or mental health.

The court may determine that a parent is unfit if:

  • The parent does not provide for a child despite having the ability to do so.
  • There is evidence of domestic violence or abuse.
  • The parent has been convicted of specific felonies.

Q: Is Kansas a 50/50 Custody State?

A: Kansas is not a 50/50 state by law, although family courts tend to have an informal preference for joint custody. There is a legal presumption that a parenting plan created by both parents together is in the child’s interest. If parents create a joint custody arrangement, the court assumes that it is in the child’s interests unless shown otherwise. Even when the court assigns custody, it is common to assign joint legal custody to parents and joint or near-equal physical custody.

Q: What Are the Rules for Parenting Plans in Illinois?

A: The rules for parenting plans in Illinois state that plans should contain, at minimum, some of the following:

  1. Legal custody and decision-making
  2. Living arrangements of the child, including a visitation schedule or a method for determining a schedule
  3. Parental rights to important records
  4. Designation of the parent with the majority of parenting time
  5. Child’s residential address
  6. Parental residential addresses, phone numbers, and places of employment
  7. Acknowledgement of the requirement for notifying the other parent of relocation
  8. Requirement of parents to notify each other of significant issues
  9. Future modification provisions

Q: At What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in Nebraska?

A: There is no specific age when a child can choose which parent they want to live with in Nebraska, as children can only make those choices when they are 18 years old. However, the court will consider a child’s wishes in a custody case. The choice to consider a child’s wishes does not have to do with their numerical age. Rather, it relies on the comprehension and sound reasoning of the child’s wishes. The court must still prioritize the child’s interests over their wishes if they contradict.

Contact Stange Law Firm

If you are a father facing a custody negotiation for a parenting plan, you need a skilled attorney by your side. Contact Stange Law Firm today to see how we can support you.