What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is simply an order from a judge (or, depending on the county you live in, a court commissioner) that outlines how a child’s parents will share their rights and responsibilities to their children. If you and your spouse are seeking a divorce and you have children under the age of eighteen, you must either create a parenting plan yourself or allow the court to create one for you. Further, the court may enter a temporary parenting plan, which will govern while the divorce or separation proceedings are still going on.

In Washington, all parenting plans must include provisions outlining the following:

  • Which parent the children will live with or how much time they will spend residing with each of their parents, including on holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions
  • How parents will allocate authority to make decisions affecting their children, including decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, and religious upbringing
  • A process for resolving disputes between the parents, preferably one that avoids further action or orders by the court. This will be some form of alternative dispute resolution, either counseling, arbitration, or mediation.

A judge orders a parenting plan in a number of different scenarios, including when…

  • A married couple files for divorce
  • A married couple files for legal separation
  • Someone who wishes to have a parent’s legal rights and responsibilities to a child files a Petition to Decide Parentage (This typically happens shortly after a child is born, when his or her parents are not married or when it is not immediately clear who is the child’s father.)

If you or a loved one are in need of assistance in creating or understanding a parenting plan, don’t hesitate to call the team at Crouse Erickson today.

Crouse Erickson