Basic Elements of a Parenting Plan:

Here’s a list of issues that must be addressed to form the basis of a parenting plan:

 

  • Which house is identified as “home base” for the children?
  • When will the children be with each parent during the school year?
  • When will the children be with each parent during holiday breaks?
  • How will the summer break period be handled?
  • What arrangements will be made for exchanging the children at the beginning of each parent’s time?
  • Who will decide which extracurricular activities the children will participate in? How will these activities be paid for? What happens if an activity falls during the other parent’s time?
  • How will the children’s religious upbringing be handled?
  • Who will make decisions for the medical and mental health needs of the children? How will these needs be paid for?
  • Who will have the right to represent the children in legal action and make other legal decisions for the children?
  • How will the children’s access to the internet be handled?
  • Who will carry the children on health insurance? Who will pay for the coverage? How will the uninsured medical expenses be handled?
  • Who will make decisions regarding the children’s education? How will private schooling be handled? What happens if the children need additional educational assistance such as tutoring? How will those expenses be handled?
  • What plans are being made for the children’s future college education?
  • Will the children talk on the telephone to the parent not in possession of them?
  • Will the children be allowed to travel outside the country with each parent? How will the passports be handled?

Unless the courts have ordered something different, both parents have the right to:

 

  • Receive information concerning the health, education and welfare of the kids;
  • Talk with the other parent before making a decision concerning the health, education and welfare of the kids;
  • Access their children’s medical, dental, psychological and educational records;
  • Consult with the kids’ doctors;
  • Consult with the school concerning the kids’ welfare and educational status;
  • Attend school activities;
  • Be listed as an emergency contact on the kids’ records;
  • Consent to medical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the kids;
  • Be offered the chance to take care of the kids during the other parent’s time if the other parent has something that keeps them from the kids;

There are some extra things that parents going through a split should keep in mind:

 

  • Alcohol consumption – limit the amount of alcohol you consume during your time with your kids, especially if alcohol has been a problem before. Never drive with your children if you’ve been drinking.
  • New romantic partners – take care to introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your kids slowly, so they don’t feel as though their other parent is being  replaced.
  • Travel – when planning trips for business or pleasure, with or without your kids, keep your kids’ schedules and your parenting plan in mind.
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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.