Parenting concerns the roles that the parents play in the life of their children after separation or divorce, usually described in a written settlement agreement or a parenting plan, that is made an order of court, that describes parenting arrangements such as:
- how decisions about the child are made (for example, jointly or individually but in consultation with the other parent)
- how information is shared between parents
- when each parent will spend time with the child
- how other parenting issues may be addressed.
A parenting plan should reflect the interests and the needs of the child. A parenting plan can also help to reduce conflict between parents by setting out clear guidelines and expectations. Reducing conflict is important. Research shows that children’s chances of coping successfully with their parents’ separation or divorce are better if their parents co-operate with each other.
A parenting plan should have enough detail to be useful, yet enough flexibility to be realistic. Consider the age of your child and how well you can work with the other parent when thinking about how specific your parenting plan should be. A parenting plan can minimize conflict by clearly setting out guidelines and expectations.