Hopefully you and your ex will be amicable enough to try and make good arrangements for the children between you but it still helps to have a parenting agreeement or plan written down, to avoid arguments about various issues. It's surprising how many things you dont think of agreeing until you see them suggested in a parenting plan document. Separated parents are actually required to have a parenting plan.

However most Dads using this forum are here because they can't get amicable agreements with their ex, or mediation hasn't worked. If applying to court you will be asked to submit a parenting plan in time for the first hearing. This is a strange way of doing things as both parents submit their own version of a parenting plan and its usually advised not to share it with the other parent before court (it could be used to undermine your case if seen too early). However, the Judge will see both parenting plans and it gives them an idea of who the sensible, child focused parent is. If your parenting plan is good enough they may even use it as the basis for a court order.

Below is a parenting plan template that can be adapted to what you want and is well set out. Headings can be changed or removed and sections added - whatever you want in it to fit your specific circumstances - whether its about finances or new partners. What is particularly good about this template is it assumes the children will live with both parents. Which is as it should be. For that section, it's best to write in what you want the child arrangements to be (not what they actually are at the moment) and then put a note underneath saying something like "the above is what I believe to be the best schedule for the children, but currently this is not the case and I am only seeing the children intermittently, with Mrs Ex changing arrangements regularly and at short notice."

Cafcass do send you a booklet with a parenting plan section to complete but it is not particularly user friendly, doesn't always have relevant sections etc. So better to use the template or write your own similar template. The download is on the link below

Parenting Plan Template
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