During and after a divorce, the most important arrangements of spouses concern those of the upbringing of their children. But because the mother and father may have disagreements about their children, including visitation schedules, healthcare decisions, and upbringing strategies, it’s important to set guidelines that both parties agree to.

A parenting plan—also known as a custody and visitation agreement—is a document that is signed by both parents and the judge and then filed by the court that lays out these guidelines.

Parenting plans are drafted with the best interests of children in mind. They also help encourage both parents to be active in their children’s lives. In addition, they help minimize the chances of disputes over things like education, activities, discipline, and daily routines.

What Is Included in a Parenting Plan?

The specifics of a parenting plan can vary from case to case. In general, they include items that are frequently contested by parents. After the parenting plan is drafted and signed by the parents and the judge, it becomes something that both parents will need to abide by as closely as possible.

Because of that, it’s important to include the following items in the plan:

Where children will be on certain days and at certain times
Establishing a routine is important for both children and parents. When a child is in the custody of a parent, the other parent can have peace of mind knowing that he or she will be at home, at school, at sports practice, or at another activity outside of the home due to an agreed upon schedule written in the parenting plan.

How children will get from point A to point B
The transportation of a child to school, to extracurricular activities, and to the other parent’s home is another aspect of parenting that should be outlined in the parenting plan. When this part of the child’s daily routine is spelled out in the plan, it decreases the risk of him or her being forgotten or a parent being late to pick him or her up. It also makes it easier to coordinate the beginning and ending of visitation periods.

Which school children will attend
In many cases, parents have several options for choosing the school that their children will attend. School A may be a perfect fit for one parent due to its proximity to home and work, but school B may be a better option for the other parent due to its coursework and reputation. Coming to a compromise and deciding the school that a child will attend and including that information in the parenting plan can help parents avoid disputes that can interfere with and interrupt his or her education.

Other items that can and should be included in parenting plans include things like holiday and vacation arrangements, methods for discipline, and best practices for keeping children healthy.