An Introduction to Parenting Plans – help for separated parents and those co-parenting

Parenting plans are a document or a series of ideas that people might use to help formulate how they're going to care for the children when they're separated Parenting plans are available on the Internet, surprise, surprise

You'll find them on the Parent Connection website You'll find them on the Cafcass website In fact, if you do any search on the Internet, you'll probably be able to find one that will pop up The kind of questions that might be asked in a Parenting Plan would be things like; the age of the children, where they go to school, what schools have you thought about that they might go to next? For example, holidays – how much time will they spend with each parent during that time? Will the couple have to think about making alternative care arrangements during the holidays? After all, most of us don't have the same amount of time off as the children have Parenting Plans can involve financial questions

They can be helpful in outlining the responsibilities of each parent and can guide you to perhaps the CSA where you'll find out what your obligations are to each other Parenting Plans are not just for now I think parents who are co-operative parents, if they're co-operating about the children, can often think about what's happening now and the immediate future However, things change And, people find it very difficult to re-visit Parenting Plans but really they perhaps need not to worry about that

It's perfectly normal to go back and look at the plan; is this plan still working for the children? In fact, is it still working for us? So, there are sort of things that might trip couples up For example, how do they introduce a new partner? What are the rules about that? Some people think, for example, some think someone should wait a year before introducing someone new Other people are more laissez faire about it So, it's very much their particular family and what's going to suit them moving forward People ask me how enforceable in law Parenting Plans actually are

The reality at the moment is that they're not enforceable However, there are moves, certainly in the recent Family Justice Review, to, if you like, make the Parenting Plans hold some water in court The reason why they're not enforceable at the moment is, perhaps, for a very good reason And that's because the child's circumstances at the time of any application to court is what the judge will think about, rather than the circumstances at the time of formulating the Parenting Plan The child's needs change

The parent's needs change The Parenting Plan – it may be a mistake to make it enforceable if everything's changed It's very difficult to predict the future but a Parenting Plan really jogs the memory; makes the couple think about what might work for their children

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