What is a parenting plan?

Single mom with child


If you and your spouse are going through divorce proceedings and have children, then one of the most important things to do right now is to write a Parenting Plan. It is best to hire a lawyer who has the education and experience in writing a parenting plan. This plan will lay out how you and your spouse will deal with childcare issues. A written-out plan that you both agree on will avoid a lot of potential conflicts further down the road, and it will give your children greater stability and consistency. Keep in mind you will need to amend your parenting plan as the child gets older.

What To Include In A Parenting Plan.

Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

First thing to do is to figure out who is the primary provider and when the other parent gets to visit the child. In Colorado the common term Child Custody has been replaced with Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities. Parenting Time is defined as "the amount of time each parent spends with their children when parents separate." Parental Responsibility is defined as "a person who has the right to make decisions about their child(ren)'s care and upbringing.

You'll have to work out if just one of you will be the children's primary caregiver, or if both of you will share in the duties. You also need to decide if one of you will get legal custody.

When you have decided the parental responsibilities next you will need to figure out parenting time or child visitation schedule.

Learn more about Parenting time and Parental Responsibilities 

Child Visitation Schedule.

If you have a shared custody agreement, then you need a visitation schedule. Figure out which days, weeks, or months the children will spend with each parent. Make your agreement with some wiggle room for both of you, to accommodate unexpected developments.

The calendars are some of the options you have available when deciding parenting time.

The calendar examples are not your only options but are here to show you some ideas of joint parenting time schedules.

Parenting Plan Calendars.

alternating weeks parenting time
Alternate weeks with midweek visit calendar
2 weeks schedule calendar parenting time
3-3-4-4 Rotation parenting time calendar

Holidays and Other Special Occasions

You also need to decide on who gets the children for which holidays and other special occasions. Make sure you take into account graduations and birthdays. You could change the holidays every year, or stick to the same holidays always spent with the same parent.

Childcare Providers

Finding adequate childcare is difficult for a single parent. Before there is a problem, you both should agree on which childcare providers you both trust.


Will your children go to daycare? Will they go to private or public schools? Who is responsible for your children's college savings? How much money should each parent contribute to them?
If the child will play sports what will the arrangements be?

You and your spouse should answer these questions no matter how young your children are.

Medical Decisions

You should both also discuss your childrens' use of prescription medications, their needs for mental health care, if any, and even issues like exercise and dieting.

Health Insurance

You should also decide whose health insurance will cover the children. You also need to write out an agreement for how you are going to share insurance premiums and copayments.


A parenting plan may need to include an agreement on how communication between you and your spouse and/or between each of you and your children is to be carried out. If one of you has restricted visitation rights, or requires supervision during visits, then communication might need to be limited.

Writing a Parenting Plan that you both agree on is one of the most important elements of the divorce process. If you need help, contact a parenting time and parental responsibilities attorney Cory Gallagher for advice or look at sample custody agreements online. Divorce can be painful, and this can make communication with your spouse difficult, but if you take the time to work out a good agreement now, you will save yourselves and your children a lot of trouble later on.

Modifying A Parenting Plan.

When there has been a significant change in a parent(s) life or child's life  you might want to modify a Parenting Plan.

A significant change could be:

  • Parent is moving.
  • Parent's job change or work schedule change.
  • Parent has died.
  • The current plan is not being followed.
  • The child is in danger or lives in a dangerous environment.

To modify a Parenting Plan you must:

  • File a child custody modification or a petition to change the custody order.
  •  Attend a custody hearing.
  • Present your case to the judge.

f you think changing an existing parenting plan is crucial, you must file a petition for modifying it with the family court. You must then serve your co-parent with the petition and a notice of a court hearing. The court will determine if a change is warranted. Verbal changes to a parenting plan are not lawful.

Working With Cory Gallagher

Having a Parenting Plan can definitely save you a lot of time, money, and stress during a divorce. However, it's not always easy for divorcing parents to communicate with each other and come to an agreement. That's where Cory Gallagher makes a big difference with years of experience obtaining agreements even in the most difficult of separations.

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