A parenting plan is a written order of the Court that explains all the terms that parents must follow regarding the care of their children, including both the custody issues and the financial issues.
The parenting plan is one of the main perks to filing a custody case as it establishes rules between parents, which can significantly reduce stress compared to a parental relationship that does not have a parenting plan in place. A parenting plan can be incredibly detailed. And while a parenting plan can be quite helpful, it is at the very least a baseline of what is expected of the parents if they cannot figure things out without Court intervention. A common phrase that attorneys use is that the best kind of parenting plan is one that can be put in a drawer and never used. That being said, having a plan, even if it is not used, can provide comfort to a parent in confrontational parental relationships.
Regarding custody, a parenting plan will establish physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody will establish the weekly schedule that is followed, the holiday schedule, and any summer visitation. The terms of legal custody will establish the types of joint decisions regarding the children that the parties will make together.
In terms on financial requirements, a parenting plan will determine any child support to be paid, who will cover insurance for the children, which parent the tax exemptions are assigned to, as well as all other extracurricular, schooling and medical expenses.