What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is a written document detailing what placement schedule each parent believes is in the best interest of the children. In a case where legal custody and/or physical placement is contested, a party seeking legal custody or periods of physical placement must file a parenting plan before any pretrial conference. A party required to file a parenting plan, who does not timely file a parenting plan, waives the  right to object to the other party’s parenting plan.

In Wisconsin, the court must set a placement schedule that allows the children to have “regularly occurring, meaningful periods of physical placement” with each parent that maximizes the amount of time the children will spend with each parent, taking into account geographic separation and accommodations for different households.

A parenting plan must provide the following information:

  • What legal custody or physical placement the parent is seeking
  • Where the parent currently lives and where the parent intends to live during the next two years
  • Where the parent works and the hours of employment
  • Who will provide any necessary child care when the parent cannot and who will pay for the child care
  • Where the children will go to school
  • What doctor or health care facility will provide medical care for the children
  • How the children’s medical expenses will be paid
  • What the children’s religious commitment will be, if any
  • Who will make decisions about the children’s education, medical care, choice of child-care providers, and extracurricular activities
  • How the holidays will be divided
  • What the children’s summer schedule will be
  • Whether and how the children will be able to contact the other parent when the children have physical placement with the parent providing the parenting plan
  • How the parent proposes to resolve disagreements related to matters over which the court orders joint decision making
  • What child support, family support, maintenance, or other income transfer there will be
  • How the children will be transferred between the parties for the exercise of physical placement to ensure the safety of the children and the parties

A sample parenting plan form can be found in the appendix. The goal of the parenting plan is to resolve conflict without the need for extended litigation. It sets the parameters for each side’s custody and placement proposal.