What is a Parenting Plan and Why is it Important?
Wisconsin requires that divorcing parents complete a parenting plan to determine custody and placement. The parenting plan can be extremely specific or rather general, based upon the needs of the parents. It details the duties and responsibilities of each parent and can prevent misunderstandings.
A parenting plan should fully address the arrangements for the children, including custody, placement, and expenses. It covers:
- Days and times for placement, including summer, holidays, and other special days
- Pick up and drop off arrangements
- Arrangements for medical appointments
- Responsibility for the children’s variable expenses
- Childcare responsibilities and expenses
- Education and schooling arrangements
- Medical care
- Religious upbringing
- Communication the child will have with the other parent
- Anything else you feel must be addressed
One goal of a parenting plan is to create a smooth transition for the child and to avoid further disagreements in the future. In fact, the plan may address how future disagreements are to be handled, for example, through mediation.
In some cases, either with or without the help of a mediator, parents are able to agree upon a parenting plan. Generally, if both parents agree and submit the parenting plan to the court, it will be accepted. If, however, the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, each parent can write their own plan and submit it to the court. If either party does not submit a plan within a timely manner, they waive their rights and the other plan may go into effect.
Having an experienced Madison attorney on your side can be an excellent asset as you draft a parenting plan. As family law attorneys, we understand the issues that typically arise and can help ensure that your plan provides precision and clarity. This will help prevent future problems and misunderstandings that may arise. Although it may seem unnecessary to complete the parenting plan in great detail if you and the other parent get along reasonably well, it is important to recognize that you do not know what the future may bring and to plan accordingly.