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The Development of the Parenting Plan Worksheet

April 17, 2016

In 2003, recognizing a need to help separated parents organize their approach to the care of children between them, I set out to develop The Parenting Plan Worksheet.

I developed a first version and then emailed it to my database of of several thousand like-minded professionals including other social workers, family law lawyers and associated mental health professionals. I asked for their input and comments.

On the basis of feedback received I revised the Parenting Plan Worksheet and again emailed it to my database of like-minded professionals. I continued the process several more times until there were no other comments or suggestions. This was quite a developmental and collaborative process.

The process resulted in a final version of the Parenting Plan Worksheet, a document that anyone could access freely from my website. As a sign of the times, the document made reference to the concepts of child custody and access. However, since 2003 and keeping with the times, I have made revisions to update the document consistent with our change in thinking about these concepts.

The newest version of the Parenting Plan Worksheet no longer uses the terms child custody or access and instead makes reference to decision making and the residential schedule. This change reflects current thinking about the care of children between separated parents; that it is a joint responsibility although one or other parent may still take the lead in some areas of decision making, yet this needn’t be an all or none outcome.

In the years since developing the Parenting Plan Worksheet, it has been adopted in whole or part by a multitude of US states and Canadian provinces. It appears in whole or in part in numerous books and is used by countless family law firms throughout the world. The Parenting Plan Worksheet is used in whole or part by the Provinces of  British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island; the States of Florida, Washington, Montana and Tennessee; and the Tulalip Indian Reserve and Chehulis Tribal Court. I have always given permission for the Parenting Plan Worksheet to be used freely. I am pleased this document is of service and that it continues to live on in many iterations serving parents and children.

I hold no view that one or any other form of my Parenting Plan Worksheet is better than an other. There are just different versions, each recreated to serve the needs of a given jurisdiction.

If you are a separated parent and can make use of a Parenting Plan Worksheet, feel free to use mine. It is easy to download as a PDF file or MS Word file. It covers most aspects necessary to create a document by which parents can continue to care for their children. I am by no means saying it is the best, but it has served as the template for countless others and continues to serve.

I too continue to serve.

If I can be helpful to you in resolving your parenting matters, please feel free to get in touch with me. I only ask that you review my services first and appreciate I will not go to court as I only engage in peaceful processes to settling parenting matters.

Please note, even if you have already started or are involved in a court action, you can still make use of my peacemaking services. Several of my services may help you steer out of court and many will help you steer clear. In the end, those parenting arrangements that are reached between parents are typically better followed and result in better outcomes for children.

Do you know someone who might benefit from this information? Please scroll down and share this article. Thank you.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships



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