A Child Centred co-parenting plan

A range of questions to consider when creating your two-home family

Creating a two home family for your children

Co-Parenting Plan Worksheet

While working through this worksheet…. remember these points!

  • Research shows that it is poorly managed parental conflict that places children at harm. A comprehensive parenting plans provide a way to minimize this conflict by ensuring each parent understands the boundaries and expectations of new family roles and responsibilities.
  • To manage potential conflict, parents can prioritize managing negative feelings about their conflict. Seeking individual therapy to assist in learning new skills to manage difficult emotions may benefit.
  • Respect your need for privacy and the other parent’s needs too. The only information that needs to be shared between co-parents is that pertaining to their children.
  • Each parents’ time with their children is sacred. Don’t make or change plans for the time your child is scheduled to spend with their other parent. Honour the pre-arranged schedule.
  • Each parent has the right to develop his/her own parenting style. As long as no harm is being done, let your co-parent relate to your children as he/she sees fit.
  • Acknowledge what your co-parent has to offer your child. Remember the qualities that first attracted you. Those qualities still exist and are available to your children.
  • Expect to feel awkward and uncomfortable about this new way of relating. But keep affirming your commitment to the new co-parenting partnership and to your children.
  • Both parents have a role in parenting, and the terms ‘on-duty’ and ‘off-duty’ to honour this understanding

    Now, onto the issues to consider.

    Co Parent Communication

    Adult Issues Communication:

What information has been shared and known by both parents? Children will do best if each parent is aware of information about their children.

  • Child’s address at both homes? Phone numbers? Parents’ work phone numbers?
  • Other people who live in the home with the child? Significant people in the child’s life who spend frequent time with them?
  • School the child attends? Names of school staff such as teachers, principal, school counsellor?
  • Who are the child’s friends? Their parent’s details?
  • Sports or classes the child is involved in? Coaches? Teachers?
  • Current medical practitioners and specialists the child sees?
  • Child’s daily routine, including bedtime, rituals and routines?
  • Child’s interests, favourite foods, special likes, dislikes
  • Child Issues Communication
  • How will the parents share information about the child’s day to day life, to support the children’s communication with the off duty parent?
  • How will the parents share photos of the child and people important to the child, with each other?
  • How will the parents share special items such as children’s artwork from school?
  • Will the parents arrange birthday, Christmas and Mother’s / Father’s Day gifts on behalf of the child? With the child? How will the parents arrange exchange of these gifts?
  • How will the child be told of any changes to arrangements? What will be explained to them?

    How the communication occurs

  • If the use of e-mail is the established mode of preferred communication, when will a telephone call be required?
  • Are text messages an effective strategy, or will this be experienced as intrusive or disruptive by either parent?
  • If using e-mail communication, will the parents use a structured template to maximize on child focused communications?
  • Would a co-parenting app be a more effective method of information sharing? [such as Our Family Wizard – https://www.ourfamilywizard.com.au]

    Time frames for responding to communications from the other parent

Excepting emergency communication by telephone, what is the expectation regarding a time frame within which the coparent replies to a communication [such as 24 hours or 48 hours]?

Child’s Communication with the Off Duty Parent

  • How often does the child communicate need to communicate with the off-duty parent to ensure the off-duty parent is ‘kept in mind’ for the child?
  • How will this occur? Phone, email, Skype? Facetime?
  • For younger children (less than mid primary school age), are the parents able to scaffold the

    child’s communication and help them with prompts for topics? For example, does the child need the on-duty parent to sit with them and facilitate communication?

  • For older children (upper primary) are they able to have access to privacy?
  • Will communication occur on the home phone or a mobile? Will the child have their own mobile?
  • Who will be responsible for the cost of the calls? Who will be responsible for charging the phone?
  • Are the parents able to commit to encouraging their child’s relationship with the off-dutyparent by initiating communication?
  • Can the parent’s prioritize and set aside time for the children’s communication with the off-duty parent, and ensure no competing activities are planned?

Educational Issues


  • Who will complete the yearly school enrollment forms?
  • Who designates the people to be contacted in the case of an emergency? Who is the school

    to contact in case of emergency? Which parent? How will the school know which parent to contact on any given day?

  • Does the child have two separate sets of school uniforms? Who pays for these?
  • Who pays for school supplies at the beginning of the year?
  • What procedures will be put in place to ensure that the school setting has the most recent court order?
  • Will one parent be designated to undertake this task in a timely manner?


  • How will the child get to and from school?
  • Who pays for transportation costs? (if public transport is used)
  • Who besides the parents is allowed to pick up or drop off the child, e.g.

    grandmother, new partner, nanny, neighbor, parent of child’s friend?

    Transitions in child’s care?

  • What is the actual time of day that the transfer of parenting responsibilityoccurs? e.g., 8:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m.
  • Which parent is responsible during the child’s school day on a transition day?
  • Who is to be called if the child is ill, hurt, or otherwise must leave the school setting on a changeover day?
  • Who is responsible for provision of care on a Student Free day, early dismissal day

    such as the last day of school or day during which school is cancelled, e.g. flooding, water main break?

  • Can the off-duty parent take the child out of school to attend various appointments and

    who books such appointments?

  • Can the parent off-duty take the child out of for lunch or come to the school to eat lunch

    with the child on school property?

  • Can either parent take children out of school early or return them late from weekends or

    holiday periods?

  • Is there a designated maximum amount of time that children can miss school for such

    optional activities as holiday travel?

    Transfers of Child’s belongings:

  • How are transfers of clothing and materials to be handled between homes (if these are transferred during transitions from one parent’s care to that of the other)?
  • Should the child take only school materials along if the transition is to occur at school and how might other belongings be transferred if this is indeed necessary?
  • What happens if needed possessions are forgotten in one home and must be retrieved after the child has transferred to other parent’s care?

Communication Between Home and School:

  • Who receives the report card, school newsletter, and other notices?
  • Are duplicate copies of notices and newsletters available for both parents?
  • Does each parent assume responsibility for making arrangements with the school to

    receive copies of such information or is one parent responsible for making copies of

    all of this information for the other?

  • Who signs the report card?
  • How will school photo orders be managed?
  • How will book club orders be managed?
  • How will permission slips for school excursions/activities be managed?
  • How will school notes about class issues (e.g. outbreak of headlice) be managed?
  • Who attends the parent-teacher interviews?
  • Must parents attend parent-interviews together or can they book two separate

    interviews or must they alternate attending parent-teacher interviews?

  • Can a parent bring a new partner, relative, or friend to theparent-teacher interviews?
  • How are situations handled where information is sent to one parent that must be

    followed up by the other during their parenting time, such as:

o baking for a special day
o providing snacks for a kindergarten or playschool class
o preparing child for a Free Dress Day, Book Week dress up?

Can this problem be solved if each parent obtains a copy of the monthly activity calendar from the school?

Parent Participation in School Activities:

  • Can both parents volunteer at school?
  • During what activities can parents volunteer? e.g. classroom helper,

    classroom reading, field trips, library duties, tuck shop)

  • Can other significant others (such as stepparents, grandparents) volunteer

    for these activities?

  • Can a parent volunteer during the time they are the off-duty parent?
  • Are parents allowed to be on the school property when they are the off-duty parent

    and are they allowed to wait in the hallways, look in windows, etc.?

  • Are both parents allowed to be on school property at the same time? What happens if both parents arrive at the school and conflict erupts?

    Should police be involved if a conflict erupts?

  • Can new partners, friends, and extended family members attend school events, such

    as concerts, presentations etc?

  • If the number of attendees is limited, who picks the people that can attend the event?
  • When both parents are attending an activity, such as a school concert, do they need to

    agree ahead of time about where each will sit, about who will bring and take the child home, and about the nature of contact between all parties so that the child does not have to choose one parent over the other?

    Exchanges/Transfers Outside of the School Setting

  • Is there any need for direct contact between parents except for the very young child?
  • If a child is a toddler or preschooler, can he or she walk alone with parents passing the

child’s hand from one to the other parent at the door?

  • If the child is of school age, can he or she walk up the sidewalk alone while the parent

    remains in a vehicle on the curb?

  • Is drop off by on-duty parent preferable to pick- up by the receiving parent, given that it

    may very well eliminate undue waiting periods at the curb while a child readies to


  • Will drop-off by the on-duty parent provide the child with the message they are

    supportive of their relationship with the other parent?

  • Are limits necessary regarding the acceptable degree of each parent’s physical entry

    into the other parent’s home? (For example, parents may define the limit as needing to stay in a vehicle or stand on the curb, sidewalk, bottom step, or top step, or perhaps they might be permitted one step inside the home if the weather is cold)?

  • Does the on-duty parent need to call the off-duty parent on a mobile phone so the they parent can be waiting at the door to receive the child?
  • Who can accompany a parent when he or she is dropping off or picking up a child?
  • If another person plans on accompanying a parent during the transfer, can this person be a new partner of one of the parents. Would this be a potential source of conflict and

    which may significantly increase the stress experienced by the child?

  • When a child must walk to a door alone, does the receiving parent need to signal the

    other waiting on the curb or in a vehicle that the child has entered the home and is safe before the other parent departs?

    Transfers in Neutral Locations:

  • If consideration cannot be given to transfers of children at the doors to the parent’s homes, what neutral location might provide for the physical safety of the child while preventing direct contact between parents? For example, transfer of the child at school, daycare, in a mall, or in a coffee shop with two doors might provide the required security for the child.
  • Can the parents’ maximize child focus of the transition by establishing a leisure/play ritual? For example, the on-duty parent and child attends a park, spend time together playing, and then the off-duty parent arrives and stays with the child at the park to play, while the other parent leaves?
  • Can an older child or adolescent safely take public transit between his or her two homes as a way to eliminate direct and upsetting contact between parents?

    Transfers Handled by a Third Party:

    • Is a third party required to physically transfer or supervise the exchange of the child? Who is acceptable to both parents while also being known to the child?
    • Can this person maintain a sufficiently neutral stance so as to limit, rather than increase, the child’s confusion and stress?

      Setting the Time of Transfer:

  • Given the child’s natural rhythms and activity schedule, is a morning, afternoon, or evening transition likely to most ease the transition for the child?
  • Does the on-duty parent need to ensure the child has a meal or snack just prior to the transition so that the child is less irritable during the transfer?
  • Is the transition set at a time that permits the child to relax and settle into routines before he or she must undertake such basic tasks as homework or getting reading for bed?
  • other parent?

    Parental Behavior and Communication During Changeover:

  • Can parents communicate at all?
  • Must comments be limited to notifying the receiving parent of issues such as illness,

    special school days and other activities?

  • What words should be used to say good-bye and greet the child so that the child does

    not feel pressured or constrained? For example, if a child is so attuned to the animosity and conflict that he or she will not hug or kiss a parent in the presence of the other parent, a different greeting may be necessary.

  • Are parents able to tell the child to “Have a good time” when they are leaving so that the child has permission to enjoy time with the other parent?
  • Do both parents need to institute rituals that cue the child and ease his or her transition between homes, such as having a snack, reading a special story, packing a special stuffed animal, or exchanging a special hug prior to transferring the child?
  • Can parents say good-bye and leave promptly so that the child is less likely to become agitated?
  • Can parents be courteous, cordial, and polite during the exchange to limit the child’s anxiety?

    Delayed Returns:

    • What is the scheduled return time? What is the amount of leeway agreed upon? (e.g. 15 minutes)
    • What is an acceptable reason for the delay, such as a car accident, roadworks, flight delay?
    • What procedures are to be used if a parent is delayed for the transition? What

      phone number should be called?

    • What are the procedures if a parent arrives to pick up a child, and the child is not

      ready or even at home?

      Extracurricular Activities, Including Fundraising Activities

      Choosing Extracurricular Activities:

    • What are parental values about the importance of specific extracurricular activities, such as participation in sports or more arts-related activities?
    • How old is the child?
    • What are the child’s personality or temperamental characteristics and how do these impact

      on activity choice? For example, a child with a difficult temperament may not do well with needing to adapt to new activities that necessitate new instructors and group members on a frequent basis; the child may do much better with an ongoing activity led by the same instructor? Another child might not do well in team sports, but do very well in an individual sport.

    • What are the child’s wishes?
    • At what time of day does the activity occur?
    • Is the desired activity/lesson available during a part of the day so that it does not interfere

with meals, family time, and other daily routines such as homework and a regular bedtime?

  • Will the activity or activities create such a busy schedule that the child and parents become

    overly stressed?

  • What activities do siblings participate in and what stresses do these generate for family

    members? For example, younger children may be detrimentally impacted by the extensive travel time required to take siblings to activities, and from the need to sit-and-wait in various venues while siblings participate in activities.

  • What is the frequency and competition level of the activity, i.e., community league v. competitive league?
  • What is the cost of the activity, in terms of fees and equipment, and what budgetary limitations exist?
  • What transportation commitments are required from both parents to support the child’s participation or will one parent be responsible for all of the transportation?
  • Is carpooling permitted and are both parents available to reliably participate?
  • Are additional financial and often unpredictable time commitments necessary to support

    such activities as tournament competition or participation in various shows and artistic


  • What is the child’s previous history and enjoyment of a specific activity?
  • Does the child still enjoy participating in the activity and find it both fun and interesting or

    does he or she participate to please a parent or reduce conflict between parents?

  • Is participation worth it for the child, especially if tension increases with the possibility that

    parents may argue about the child’s participation or have nasty exchanges if they encounter each other?

    Involvement of Parents as observers/spectators:

  • Who takes the child to the activity, including both regular and special events? Can parents wait for the child at the venue?
  • Can both parents attend various events together and how will this be managed?
  • What other persons can parents bring with them to various lessons, practices, tournaments,

    and performances?

  • When can these other persons accompany parents?
  • Can the off-duty parent attend an activity as an observer when the child is in the care of the

    other parent?

    Involvement of Parents as Volunteers and Coaches:

  • Can either parent assume a role, such as coach, manager, volunteer coordinator, equipment or uniform manager, stage producer, or costume manager, in the child’s extracurricular activity, while knowing that he or she will need to attend the activity when they are the off-duty parent?
  • If parents agree that a parent can assume such a role, does this impact arrangements regarding who takes the child to the activity and who can attend as an observer?
  • What arrangements are necessary to avoid a detrimental impact on the child if parents encounter each other while one is volunteering or assuming other roles in the child’s activity?
  • Which parent will accompany the child and/or the team on out-of-town road trips? Involvement of Parents in Fundraising Efforts:
  • If fundraising is required for the child’s participation in an extracurricular activity, who will do it?
  • Can one parent do fundraising activities in lieu of monetary contributions toward the costs?
  • If a parent is not completely in favor of an extracurricular activity but is still required to

    contribute monetarily, must he or she still participate in fundraising efforts?

  • If there is a no-show penalty or if a parent does not appear for a fundraising job or function,

    what are the consequences for that parent, i.e., forfeit of a portion of the deposit?


  • Who pays for the registration costs of the extracurricular activities?
  • If parents do not share the costs, is each responsible for the costs of the activity he or she


  • Who pays for the required equipment?
  • Who pays for replacement costs of required equipment if it is outgrown, broken, or lost?
  • Are parents willing to reduce some of the cost of required equipment by purchasing second-

    hand equipment?

  • Regardless of who ultimately pays for the equipment, who is responsible for selecting and

    purchasing the equipment?

  • Who pays for lessons?
  • Who pays for the costs of necessary transportation, lodging, and meals on required out-of-

    town travel that is part of the extracurricular activity?

  • Who is responsible for paying for optional team materials, such as a team jacket, fleece

    shirts, or warm-up suit?

  • Who pays for social activities associated with the extracurricular involvement, such as pizza

    night fees or gifts for coaches or teachers?

  • Is there a yearly limit to allowable costs for activities, i.e., a budget?
  • Is there a way to manage escalating costs over the course of the child’s participation in an

    activity so that each parent can anticipate and plan for the increased financial demands? For example, costs for hockey and musical theater often rise dramatically with the child’s progress.

    Notification regarding cancellations or changes in scheduled extracurricular activities:

  • Can arrangements be made so that the organization notifies both parents of cancellations or changes in planned activities or is the organizational policy such that only one parent can be notified? Who will this be and how will that parent notify the other and in what time span?
  • In situations where both parents might be planning on attending an activity and the child cannot attend due, for example, to ill health, how and when will the parent notify the other?
  • How will parents resolve a conflict in scheduling between two activities?

o This might include such conflicts as:

§ hockey pizza night v. choir practice
§ overlap between two sport activities as the seasons change – finals in one

with signup for the next

Notification regarding medical emergencies that occur during extracurricular activities:

  • What degree of injury necessitates immediate notification of the other parent?
  • Is it broken bones, stitches, or an ambulance trip to the hospital?
  • What primary contact number should be used to notify the other parent?
  • If the parent is busy or unavailable, should someone else be notified who will then attempt

    to contact the parent about the child’s injury?

    Peer Contacts

    Invitations to events such as birthday parties, sleepovers, and excursions:

  • Regardless of the child’s location, when an invitation arrives, who makes the decision regarding attendance? (For example, it is preferable for the on-duty parent on the day of the event to make the decision about attendance).
  • How will the notification about the invitation or the event be communicated to the other parent who will be making the decision?
  • Whose responsibility is it to RSVP?
  • Who will buy the gift if the event is a friend’s birthday party?
  • If the invitation is for the child to accompany a friend on a weekend or holiday excursion

    away from his or her home community, who gives consent? Should the on-duty parent at

    the time of the event be the parent who gives consent?

  • Who is responsible for buying special clothes and buying/renting equipment for the


  • Who is responsible for providing spending money for the child’s use during the excursion?
  • On such an excursion, is the child permitted to leave school early or return late to

    accommodate the host child’s family schedule?

  • If the excursion is to a location out of the country, who will provide the passport and

    necessary documentation?

    Arrangements for the Child’s own birthday party:

  • If a party with peers is planned, will the child have only one of these each year or will parents each hold a separate party?
  • Which parent will host the party?
  • Will parents alternate hosting on a yearly basis?
  • Will the party be held on the while the child is with their on-duty parent?
  • For themed parties, how is the theme chosen, is cost an issue, and how will costs be

    divided? For example, some parents plan, host, and pay for the party during the year in

    which it is his/her responsibility. Others jointly decide and share costs.

  • What happens if a parent chooses a theme that is objectionable to the other parent? Does

    the child have a say in choosing the theme?

  • How do parents balance the child’s wishes and the number of peers invited, against costs

    and the parent’s available energy?

  • Does the child even want a birthday party with peers?
  • Does the child prefer to celebrate with one or two friends or with a large group of peers?
  • Where will the party be held – home or other venue? Who sends the invitations and

    receives the RSVPs?

  • If loot bags are planned, who buys the treats and assembles the bags?
  • Can both parents attend the peer party, particularly if it is not held at the home of one of the

    parents? How would the child feel about both parents coming to the party?

  • How would the child feel if both parents attend the party and yet cannot be respectful of

    each other?

  • If both parents do attend the party and conflict arises, who is designated to depart so the

child can relax and not be subject to emotional stress and embarrassment?

  • Can other adults attend the party, such as the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and

    new partners? Again, consider how the child would react and feel and what is the plan if

    tension and conflict arise.

  • In regards to gifts received at the party, where do they remain? Are they considered to be

    the child’s property and the child can take them between homes as he or she wishes or do they stay in the host parent’s home, i.e., child’s property or home-specific property?

    Safety issues:

  • Will parents take steps to ensure that the child is supervised properly when visiting with peers, such as by talking to the friend’s parent to determine the specific arrangements?
  • What special considerations are necessary to ensure the child’s safety?

o for example, if the child is dropped at a movie with friends; if the child is dropped at a shopping centre with friend; if the child plans to ride public transport alone or with


  • At what age can the child be left home alone?
  • At what age and under what circumstances is the child permitted to assume the

    responsibility of baby sitting?

    Family Celebrations

    Family Celebration of Child’s Birthday:

  • For the child’s personal birthday gift(s) from parents, will a joint gift be chosen or will each parent simply purchase separate gifts?
  • If a joint gift is planned, how will this be purchased and who will pay for it?
  • Will arrangements be made for the child to see each parent on his or her birthday or is the

    stress for the child so increased that such a plan is not reasonable?

  • If the child is to see each parent on his or her birthday, what is the best structure for the time, after considering travel time, transition arrangements, length of time, and the next

    day’s activities, such as attending school?

  • If the child goes to spend time with the other parent on his or her birthday, is make-up time


  • Is it a better plan for each parent to celebrate the child’s birthday when the child is in his or

    her care?

    Family Celebrations, such as Parent’s Birthday, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day:

  • Will arrangements be made for the child to spend time with each parent on the parent’s celebration day or are the changes in the usual parenting patterns such that the added stress makes such alterations unworkable?
  • In making these arrangements, consider whether the child is already in that parent’s care, how long a visit might be, the travel required, and how the transition is structured.
  • Also consider the disruptions to the child’s schedules and the potential for difficult/unpleasant interactions and conflict erupting versus the benefits to the child from sharing this time, especially if the arrangements and transitions can be made in a neutral or positive manner.
  • If parents decide to make arrangements for time with the off-duty parent, is make-up time needed?

Will the child be disadvantaged by only celebrating these times when with the parent scheduled to be the on-duty parent?

Family Celebrations of Family Birthdays, Anniversaries, Reunions, Funerals, Religious Ceremonies:

  • Can these celebrations be scheduled in each parent’s already established parenting times so that added conflict between parents and the consequent stress for the child is reduced?
  • When the dates for special celebrations with members of the extended family are out of a parent’s control and they are in the role of off-duty parent, can special arrangements for the child’s attendance be possible?
  • What special celebrations might fall into this category?
  • How much notice must be given to the other parent about such events? Is make-up time

    needed; or can the parents negotiate changes to the schedule?

  • What is the makeup time may be required, especially when several days are used in

    traveling to an out-of-town or distant location?

  • Who buys or prepares the child’s special clothing for the event? Who buys the gifts required

    for the celebration?

  • Who pays for travel costs?
  • Is a passport and travel letter required? Who arranges and pays for such documents?
  • Who retains the travel documentation after travel is completed?
  • In large family gatherings, how will the parent supervise the child and ensure his or her


  • What happens if either parent has high distrust in the extended family members’ capacity to

    act in appropriate and safe ways around the child?

  • Who makes the final decision about the child’s attendance? What happens if the child does

    not want to go to the event?

  • What happens if the child already has significant activities scheduled for the day and his or

    her absence might have a negative impact, e.g. high school exams?

  • If the child or a parent is being baptized or is participating in a religious ceremony, will the

    other parent be invited or can special arrangements be made to allow the child to attend the ceremony?

    Holiday Arrangements

    Variations in the Usual Parenting Schedule

  • Are parents agreeable to varying the regular parenting period to accommodate holiday periods?
  • Have parents established a regular day for transition day, such as Thursday, that already allows for easier accommodations for long weekends throughout the year and may very well ease the transitions into longer holiday periods?
  • If parents plan to change the regular parenting schedule during these holiday blocks of time, will this need to be applied applied on a yearly basis?
  • Alternatively, do parents prefer to negotiate the dates for larger holiday blocks of time on a yearly or holiday-by-holiday basis, keeping in mind that this may very well generate more disagreement and conflict.
  • Given that parents’ work and holiday schedules often differ from the child’s scheduled school holidays, it is often wise to plan holiday schedules on a yearly basis rather than on a holiday-by-holiday basis. The latter may result in confusion and sometimes crisis situations.
  • Are parents able to anticipate changes in the activities planned during holiday periods,

attuning to the child’s age and thereby also meeting the child’s needs rather than only those

of the parents?
Are parents sensitive to the child’s age and needs in determining the length of holiday

blocks, given that a young child may have difficulty tolerating long separations from a parent on whom he or she is highly dependent. A longer-term plan that gradually increases holiday length may be more developmentally appropriate.

Short-notice changes and accommodations

  • What procedures, if any, may be used and under what circumstances to accommodate the situation where a parent is not informed about his or her allotted holiday periods until shortly before the actual holiday period with the child? Many parents have little control over their own employment schedules and cannot make plans far in advance.
  • What, if any, is the minimal notice required for changing schedules to accommodate a parent’s planned vacation periods?
  • If last minute changes occur, as in the situation where a parent cannot assume the role of n- duty parent during the scheduled holiday period, is the other parent expected to change their own plans to accommodate caring for the child? Parents need not feel pressured or guilty about being unable to make these accommodations.
  • How will the children be informed of their cancelled holiday and the alternate arrangements?
  • If a parent cannot take time off work to accommodate all of the children’s holiday periods,

    what happens in regards to care of the child?

  • Can the child be in the care of a day-care, Out of School Hours care, baby sitter, new

    spouse, or member of the extended family during holiday periods? For example, can the child attend day or over night camps or must the parent be personally parenting for the entire holiday?

    Make up time

  • If holiday has changed the time of the child’s usual holiday time with one parent (e.g. extended time with one parent for international holidays), will time exchanged be made up?
  • If make up time is planned, should this be expected immediately or in the future? Will this make up time have any effect on the regular parenting schedule?

    Child’s location when away from home

  • Is it important for parents to know where their child is during holidays when not staying at home?
  • If so, how will this information be provided or exchanged with the other parents, e.g., calls, printed itinerary, voice mail, e-mail?
  • If a child is leaving the State, will any type of letter or documentation be necessary? International Travel
  • Who will take responsibility for preparing the specific documentation necessary for international travel?
  • The travel document may include such items as:

o Passport

o Flight and accommodation itinerary – including specific dates and flights Phone number at accommodations

o Non traveling parent’s contact information
o Vaccination records or other necessary medical records

  • Will a passport be necessary for travel?
  • Who will apply for the passport?
  • Who will sign as the guarantor for the child’s passport? Who will pay for the passport?
  • Who will hold the passport?
  • Who will arrange for necessary travel vaccinations? Who will pay for vaccinations?
  • Who will take the child to the travel clinic?
  • Who will hold the documentation pertaining to the vaccinations?
  • Under what exceptional circumstances would a parent not be listed as the emergency


    Communication with the off-duty parent during travel/holidays

  • How will the children maintain communication with the off-duty parent during travel? Who pays for the telephone calls?
  • Will phone cards be provided?
  • Which way does the call go, such as child to parent or parent to child?
  • What time are the calls to be made, given that different time zones may result in calls at odd hours?

    Special clothing and equipment

  • Will any special or new clothing or equipment be required for the holiday? Who buys it?
  • Who packs it?
  • If new clothes or equipment are purchased, who retains it on return and can the other parent use it for the child on his or her own holiday with the child?
  • Is the situation such that lists of these materials must be retained?
  • The same considerations would apply to attendance at camps and other structured holiday activities? 


  • Although in most families parents pay for the child’s holiday expenses, such as plane tickets, are there any exceptional circumstances in which this general rule would not apply?

    Alternate child care

  • In the unusual situation where one parent may take a child on a holiday while leaving the other siblings behind, perhaps because of different school holiday periods, who will care for the siblings staying behind?
  • If the traveling parent should have those children in his or her care, can they designate a different care provider or does the non-traveling parent automatically provide care during the absence?

    Missed school days

  • If holidays are planned during designated school days, is it permissible for children to miss any days of school?
  • Is there a maximum number permissible and should it be related to the child’s actual academic performance and their age and grade? For example, a high school student taking math will possibly be handicapped by missing lessons.

Which parent will communicate to the school about travel plans? Child’s wishes

Will the child’s wishes be considered in regards to going on the holiday? For example, a teenager may not want to go on a family holiday. In blended families, this issue may create additional complexities.

Travel insurance

  • Who will ensure that travel insurance is obtained for the holiday to guarantee that no additional high costs are incurred for emergency care?
  • Should extra medical costs be incurred, how will they be paid? Health Care

    Selecting a Health Care Provider

  • Under what circumstances would the children not retain the same health care providers they saw prior to family separation, given the strong sense of continuity that children may derive from such relationships?
  • If a child requires a new care provider, who selects the provider? Under what name will the child be registered with the provider?
  • How will a decision about a consultation be made if parents do not agree on the need for the consult or treatment itself?
  • How will a decision about a consultation be made if parents do not agree regarding on the actual practitioner?
  • When is a second opinion needed and who would pay for this? Appointments and Routine Provision of Care
  • Will one parent be responsible for setting appointments and taking the child to the consultations or will parents divide these responsibilities by type of practitioner, parenting schedule, employment schedules, etc.?
  • Alternatively, will they alternate taking the child to appointments while recognizing that this will require more communication between them?
  • Will both parents have direct access to the child’s records?
  • Who retains written documentations, such as the child’s immunization record?
  • How will information be shared about the findings of the consultations or the treatment


  • If a medical practitioner recommends a medication regime for a child, are there any

    exceptional circumstances where parents do not need to follow the treatment plan? The

    same would apply for recommendations from other practitioners.

  • If parents disagree about a course of treatment recommended, will a second opinion be

    sought? Who will pay for this? How will the second practitioner be decided upon?

    Emergency Care

In the event that emergency care is required, parents should agree that the on-duty parent accurately indicates the contact information for both parents.

  • Should the parent request that the emergency setting immediately contact the off-duty parent or is is the on-duty parent willing to make this prompt contact?
  • Once notified, should the off-duty parent attend the emergency setting or do circumstances exist that would prevent their attendance (such as a Protection Order)?
  • Will parents be able to maintain respectful behaviour to ensure that the child is not further distressed by the experience?
  • If one parent does not attend, how will he or she be updated about the child’s status? Costs for Care

Who pays the basic medical fees? Who pays extra costs, such as:
o Private Health Insurance, and which policies are the child included on?
o medications, supplements, medical appliances, orthotics, special diet, corrective

o lost orthodontic appliances and corrective lenses

  • When one parent wishes the child to undergo a specific treatment that is not covered under standard health care, will both parents be contributing to cost?
  • Who bears the cost of any nonessential medical interventions and materials, such as cosmetic orthodontics or contact lenses?

    Transfers of Medical and Related Materials

  • When children require ongoing medications, does this transition between homes or will each have their own supply?
  • What happens if needed materials are forgotten in one home and must be retrieved after the child has transitioned to the other parent’s care?

    General Issues regarding Health

Given that parents may have divergent values regarding the importance of various aspects of the child’s needs for health and other related services, parents need to specify a common statement of values regarding issues, such as:

o Conventional v. alternative interventions
o Non-essential medical interventions, such as cosmetic procedures and body

o How religious and cultural practices will be applied in medical and related decision

making, such as birth control, alcohol use, etc.
o What degree and/or chronicity of a problem must exist before seeking consultation?

Religious and Cultural Practices

Religious Affiliations

  • If parents have the same religious affiliation, are they able to attend the same place of worship?
  • In what exceptional circumstances would parents of different affiliations not be free to share their faith and religious practices with the children?
  • How will parents come to a consensus about the child’s participation in more formal rituals and rites of a religion, considering that some of these involve regular preparation for lengthy periods?
  • Who will transport the child to these lessons, participate with the child, pay the accompanying cost, and put on the celebratory reception?
  • Are the child’s wishes to be taken into account regarding participation in religious activities?
  • Are parents agreeable to a child’s placement in a religiously based school program?

    Cultural Practices

  • In what exceptional circumstances would parents of different cultures not be free to share their cultural practices with the children?
  • How will parents come to a consensus about the child’s participation in more cultural practices, considering that some of these involve regular preparation? For example, some children may need to attend language or cultural dance classes on a weekly basis.
  • Who will transport the child to these lessons, participate with the child, pay the accompanying costs for lessons and costumes?
  • Are the child’s wishes to be taken into account regarding participation in cultural activities?
  • Are parents agreeable to a child’s placement in a culturally based school program?

    New Partners and Step-parents

    New Partners

  • Do parents want to be informed when the other is planning to introduce the children to a new potential partner?
  • How will the introduction be handled?
  • By what name will the children call the new partner?
  • Will the other parent meet the new partner before the children do and what is the purpose of

    the meeting?

  • How will the children be supported to develop a healthy but non-parental relationship with

    this new partner?

  • Under what exceptional circumstances would the other parent not support the child’s

    relationship with the new partner?

  • What role, in terms of discipline and parenting, will the new partner fill, keeping in mind that

    the new partner should remain relatively passive and not assume the parenting role of

    either parent?

  • What are appropriate or acceptable behaviors between the parent and new partner when

    the children are present?

  • When is it appropriate for a new partner to beginning staying overnight when the children

    are present in the home?

    Children of the new partner

  • When and how will children be introduced to children of the new partner?
  • If these children are older, will they be expected to provide any childcare to the children?

    Extended Family

  • In what circumstances would children not be able to spend time with and communicate with extended family?
  • Can the children spend time / communicate with the off-duty’s extended family members during the time they are with the on-duty parent?
  • What methods of communication will best meet the child’s needs? What is the frequency and duration of such communication?
  • Can extended family members attend the children’s activities, including school activities and extracurricular activities?

    Third Party Care Providers

    Initial Choices

  • Given that these providers are entrusted with the children’s care and safety, how will parents identify and chose these people?
  • Should the other parent be given Right of First Refusal, when the on-duty parent cannot provide this ongoing care personally? For example, this might include before and after school care, overnights to accommodate business or out-of-town travel?
  • Is there a minimum time frame that should apply? Professional childcare providers
  • Who will interview potential professional childcare providers, such as day home day care providers and nannies?
  • Who will contract with the provider? Who will supervise the provider?
  • Who will pay for them?
  • Who will claim the child care expenses on a tax return?
  • If there is one nanny, will the nanny move between homes?
  • If one parent hires an alternate provider to be used when they are the on-duty parent, does the off-duty parent have access to information about that provider and can they speak with that provider? For example, this might include reviewing a copy of a nanny’s resume.
  • How will parents ensure that neither will demand a one-sided allegiance of the care provider, thereby avoiding involving the provider in the conflict and increasing any division?
  • Who will communicate changes in schedules and absences of the child to the childcare provider? This can be particularly problematic on days when the child is transitioning between homes.
  • Given that third-party care providers often are placed in the situations as educators, readers may want to reference the education section as well.

    Nonprofessional childcare providers (e.g., family members, friends)

  • Is there any particular person in whose care the children should not be entrusted due to safety concerns? For example, these may include people with alcohol/substance use, medical problems, etc.
  • How will parents handle situations where one does not agree with the other’s choice of an informal childcare provider?
  • If informal care providers use harsh discipline procedures, such as swearing, name calling, hitting, and slapping, would they be considered inappropriate as care givers?
  • What types of disciplinary procedures are acceptable for use by a third party?
  • At what age can older siblings/step-siblings, relatives, or baby sitters care for younger

    siblings and for how long?

    Children Left Alone

  • Is there a minimum age at which children can be left by themselves and don’t require a third-party care provider?
  • For what maximum period can a child be left on their own?
    Future plans for Review and Adapting the Co-parenting Plan
  • How often will the co-parenting plan be reviewed? (e.g. at the beginning of each school year?)
  • What are the criteria for the plan to be reviewed in special circumstances?
  • If you cannot work together, how will you decide upon a dispute resolution practitioner to

    help resolve issues?

  • Are you prepared to trial a change to the plan and then re-evaluate whether it meets the

    needs for your family/s?

  • How will you fund the cost of the dispute resolution? Shared or will one parent pay for the