What is a parenting plan?

If you and your partner decide to divorce, separate or end your civil partnership, you are required to make a parenting plan if you have children under the age of 18. The parenting plan contains the agreements you and your partner have made about the care and upbringing of the children. Couples who are married, have formed a civil partnership or are cohabiting and share parental responsibility are required by law to have a parenting plan.

Content of a parenting plan

A parenting plan must include (at least) the agreements the partners have made concerning:

  • the care arrangement (how the care and upbringing of the children will be divided between you) or the access arrangement;
  • how you will communicate with one another about important topics, such as choice of school;
  • the costs of care and upbringing (child maintenance).

It is a good idea to include other agreements in the parenting plan as well, such as what you consider to be important aspects of parenting, specific rules (bedtime, homework) or views on punishment. You might also want to include agreements about contact with your respective families.

Both partners are required to sign the parenting plan.

Care arrangement or access arrangement

The care or access arrangement is part of the parenting plan. Parents who share parental responsibility have to agree on a care arrangement describing how the tasks involved in the children’s care and upbringing will be divided between them.

If only one of the parents has parental responsibility, the parents agree an access arrangement. The parent who does not have parental responsibility is not responsible for the care and upbringing of the child, but has the right to contact with the child.