Shared parenting agreement plans

A shared parenting plan can map out everyone’s intentions for the future and can provide a much needed road map when things become difficult or uncertain.

Children need the love and support of both parents as well as the ability to enjoy a good relationship with both parents. A shared parenting plan can map out everyone’s intentions when things become difficult or uncertain after the divorce.

What is a shared parenting agreement?

A shared parenting agreement, also known as a parental agreement or a shared parenting plan, is a plan drawn up by both parents and sometimes grandparents, or a guardian, and includes the day to day parenting of the children.

A shared parenting agreement plan is based around what is in the best interests of the children. Divorce can be particularly painful for children, regardless of age. A parenting plan can help both parents and other family member’s focus on what is in the child’s best interests. It also demonstrates a mutual commitment by both parents that they are willing to put the needs of the children before their personal views of each other.

A shared parenting agreement plan also helps parents clarify with each other what is expected of them, including:

  • Children living arrangements – who the children will spend time with, to include other family members such as grandparents, how often and when
  • Money – who is to be financially responsible for the children’s day to day needs and other needs such as housing, education, holidays etc.
  • Religion – particularly if the parents are from different religious backgrounds and have different expectations in terms of religious education for their children
  • Education – this is not limited to what school the children go to, but could also include the type of school the children are to attend i.e. private/state. A shared parenting plan would also discuss who is to be responsible for associated educational costs
  • Health care – this may be impacted by a parents’ religious beliefs and may need clarifying between the parents upon divorce. It may also consider if the children are to receive private health care dependent upon the parents circumstances
  • Emotional well-being – to ensure that the children are receiving the love and support that is required from both parents and other family members. To also ensure that the children are not exposed to on-going family disputes, as a direct result of the divorce, or perhaps by extended family members; and how this is to be avoided/corrected.

A shared parenting agreement plan can be drawn up by the parents themselves, however when parents can’t agree our children law solicitors can help. Alternatively if the parents feel that they need some assistance or guidance to draw up the plan then they can attend a Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP).

These programmes are designed to provide information and guidance on co-parenting. In England & Wales organisations that can help can include the National Family Mediation and there are lots of voluntary organisations that will assist parents to develop a shared parenting plan.

For parents with older children it is important to listen to their wishes and feelings and what they feel they need now that their parents have divorced. Listening to children provides them with reassurance that they have not been forgotten or overlooked throughout the divorce process. This will also help to reduce any feelings of anxiety or stress that they may be experiencing.

If family mediation is being considered by the parents and the children are older, then perhaps encourage them to take part in the mediation process. This can often help parents in really hearing what their children are saying.

Sometimes during divorce, the parents are unable to listen effectively as they are too emotionally involved in the divorce and are experiencing feelings of anger, sadness and frustration. All of this can become a barrier to effectively listening to the children.

When the Shared Parenting Agreement plan is complete then both parents would sign it and take a copy, which can then be used later on for reference or if circumstances change.

About Co-op Legal Services

The family law team at Co-op Legal Services includes specialist family solicitors, divorce solicitors and children law solicitors with Resolution accreditation and accredited experts in child abduction, co-habitation, domestic abuse, property disputes, high net worth money matters and financial advocacy.

Resolution is a national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, separation and other family problems.

As part of the Co-op Group, our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.