A parenting plan is a child custody plan that is negotiated by parents, and which may be included in a marital separation agreement or final decree of divorce. Especially when a separation is acrimonious to begin with, specific agreements about who will discharge these responsibilities and when and how they are to be discharged can reduce the need for litigation. Avoiding litigation spares parties not only the financial and emotional costs of litigation but the uncertainty of how favorable or unfavorable a court's after-the-fact decision will be. Moreover, the agreement itself can authorize the employment of dispute-resolution methods, such as arbitration and mediation, that may be less costly than litigation.
The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)