A 'Parenting Plan' is a voluntary agreement between you and your child's other parent about arrangements for your children.
They're used by parents who are separating, or who have never lived together as a couple, instead of asking a court to decide.
You can choose what you need to agree on in your Parenting Plan. For example, where your children will live, who else can look after them or how they'll spend school holidays and birthdays.
How to make a Parenting Plan
Download guidance on how to make a Parenting Plan.
This guide will help you and your child's other parent work together on your Parenting Plan and includes information on what to include and things to consider.
The guide also includes sections for you to fill out and sign, if you want to.
You should ask your children what they think and feel about any changes that are taking place. Discuss any new arrangements with them, so they can understand what is happening and why.
If you have more than one child, you might want to make a separate Parenting Plan for each of them.
Making your agreements legally binding
Any agreements you make in your Parenting Plan are voluntary. This means a court can't enforce a decision if one of you doesn't stick to it.
You can ask a solicitor to create a document called a 'Minute of Agreement' if you want to make your plan legally binding.
Before you make a Parenting Plan
Make sure both you and your child's other parent are ready to work together on your Parenting Plan.
Is it safe?
A Parenting Plan might not be suitable in certain cases, for example if there has been domestic abuse.
Support for children and young people
They also offer support services such as children's counselling.
Grandparents and grandchildren
Your Parenting Plan: charter for grandchildren has information on the role of the wider family in supporting children when their parents live apart or their families are experiencing difficulties.
People who work with parents and children
For information on how to support parents to make or update a Parenting Plan, download Your Parenting Plan: guidance notes for legal professionals, educators and others who work with parents and children.