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Increasing the Odds for Success: Basic Parenting Plans

Updated on March 4, 2012

Few people have more influence in a child’s life than his or her parents, regardless of their marital status. Divorced parents face extra challenges of trying to provide environments for their children’s growth and development while living their own lives. A basic parenting plan allows both parents to document how they will be raising the children and what their roles are in that important task.

To increase the odds for success with your parenting plan after divorce, focus on the children’s needs, communication, proximity and comprehensive planning.

From infants to teenagers, children need their parents to provide love and guidance, regardless of their marital status.
From infants to teenagers, children need their parents to provide love and guidance, regardless of their marital status. | Source

Children's Needs

Children need a sense of security and divorce can cause plenty of questions for children. Your basic parenting plan can help you and the other parent get on the same page when it comes to how you will raise your children going forward. You’ll be able to give your children honest and sincere answers based on what you work out in your parenting plan. This will give all of you a sense of stability and confidence that everything will be fine.


The key to making your parenting plan a helpful tool rather than a waste of time is keeping the communication open between you and the other parent. When you can put aside your emotions and deal with parenting as your best selves, you’ll have a better chance of implementing the decisions you agreed to. Aim for low-conflict communication and always operate under the idea that you are putting your children’s best interests first.


While sometimes there is no choice but to relocate far away, you should make it a priority to remain in reasonable proximity to the other parent, for your children’s sake. Children who are shuttled between households and are subject to an erratic schedule may develop anxiety, stress and behavior issues. A distant parent can also weaken the parent-child bond, causing children to feel abandoned. Staying close doesn’t mean you have to live on the same street, of course. Whatever you need to do to make transitions between homes smooth and conflict-free is best for children.

The best parenting plans help you both to emphasize your own parenting strengths and minimize your weaknesses to create a workable plan that benefits your children.
The best parenting plans help you both to emphasize your own parenting strengths and minimize your weaknesses to create a workable plan that benefits your children. | Source

Comprehensive Planning

Avoid committing to a basic parenting plan before you’ve given it a lot of thought. You may feel that once you have a custody schedule figured out, you are done, but a good parenting plan is much more than that. Include even the smallest of topics into your plan. Consider everything from what kind of home will you make for your children, household rules at both homes, emergency situations, extracurricular activities, extended family visits and so forth.

Software such as Custody X Change allows you to create parenting plans from templates that cover all kinds of topics related to divorce and parenting. Customize them to fit your family’s needs.


Your parenting plan has the best chance of being successful when you and the other parent commit to making it work for your family. Understand the unique needs of your children, strive to work together to achieve your parenting goals and keep conflict to a minimum. Children really can thrive after divorce when they have two caring parents they can rely on.


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