Most divorcing parents are understandably concerned about the custody status of their children because it defines how the major decision-making responsibilities will be allocated, and may influence where the children live. However, what primarily impacts the children’s lives is not their custody status but the schedule of time that they spend with each parent and the nuts and bolts of how that schedule is implemented. This blueprint for the children’s care, called the “parenting plan”, should be a much more comprehensive document than the typical “visitation agreement”. A successful parenting plan needs to incorporate sufficient details to ensure children will not experience ongoing arguments and conflicts between their parents about the arrangements they are putting in place.
In the interests of their children, a parenting plan which maintains a strong relationship with both parents should be created, irrespective of who has legal or physical custody. A comprehensive plan offers children a predictable pattern to their lives, regardless of the quality, frequency and reliability of parent-to-parent communication.