Creating a Sole Custody Parenting Plan
Explains the responsibilities of the custodial parent and how to ensure a successful parenting agreement for both parties, and the children.
You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional to create one. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, make your own agreement using the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans. You make each part of your agreement, and then you can print professional documents of your plan.
A sole custody parenting plan outlines the responsibilities of both parents parent as well as the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent is responsible for physically caring for the children while the other parent is awarded visitation.
It's important to know the difference between sole physical custody and sole legal custody. Sole physical custody occurs when children resides full time with one parent, and the other is allowed visitation. Sole legal custody is when the custodial parent makes all the decisions about the children's lives, including schooling, health care and religious upbringing.
Your sole custody parenting plan can help you, the other parent and your children adapt more quickly to the new living arrangements. The plan should outline specific visitation protocols for the non-custodial parent and gives everyone a guideline to follow. A sole custody parenting plan also spells out each parent's responsibilities.
Custody X Change software offers you several parenting plan templates that can help you create a workable parenting plan for all types of custody arrangements, even sole custody. A well-written plan can also lower the conflict between parents, encouraging them to work together for the sake of the children.
An effective sole custody parenting plan should include everything you and the other parent need to create a healthy and stable environment for your children. When creating a plan best suited to your family, take into consideration the unique needs of each child.
A successful sole custody parenting plan should include details about:
- Custody specifics as outlined by the court decision
- Visitation times and the outline of when and how transfers occur
- Clear, easy-to-read schedule
- Where children will spend holidays, vacations, birthdays and other non-traditional days
- Education decisions for each child
- Discipline agreements and other child-rearing details
- Medical coverage and health care requirements
- New relationship protocol for each parent, including dating and remarriage
- Steps on how to resolve disagreements, such as seeking third-party mediation
- Set times to discuss revisions to the parenting plan, such as annually or when children pass certain developmental milestones
The best sole custody parenting plans are flexible to accommodate the children's needs as they grow and mature. While physical and legal custody may be awarded to one parent, children need the involvement and support of both parents for healthy development.
Children go through plenty of upheaval during a divorce, so your sole custody parenting plan should introduce as little change as possible at first. You can always make revisions to the plan as the children grow.
Family courts prefer that parents create parenting plans together that are tailored to the needs of their children and better fit their own schedules. Parents who can agree on the details in a sole parenting plan are more likely to follow it.
Many parents turn to custody software, such as Custody X Change, to help them create a parenting plan without court involvement. Custody X Change offers templates for parenting plans that you can customize to address issues for various custody arrangements.
If you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement on a parenting plan and visitation schedule, the court will make the decision for you. Of course, it is better for your children to have their parents make decisions on their behalf. Put aside your differences and work together to create a document that will significantly influence your children's lives.
If you cannot work with the other parent on a sole custody parenting plan for any reason, you can prepare your own parenting plan to submit to the court and provide examples of why it is in your children's best interest that the plan be approved. Custody X Change software is an excellent resource when you create a parenting plan alone.
While the custodial parent retains the majority of the responsibility in raising the children, the non-custodial parent is still entitled to certain rights that can be outlined in the parenting plan. When divorced parents adhere to a thoughtful parenting plan, it can reduce conflict and miscommunication.
Some parents mistakenly believe that sole custody parenting plans give some unfair advantage to the custodial parent. In reality, a parenting plan outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parents.
A sole custody parenting plan paves the way for you and the other parent to be involved in your children's lives regardless of who has physical custody. When you both are on the same page when it comes to child raising, you can focus on being a good parent rather than quarreling with each other.
The non-custodial parent should ensure that a sole custody parenting plan includes these 6 conditions, unless prohibited by law:
- Clear schedule outlining visitation times that encourages quality interaction with children
- Reasonable notice of any activities or events the children participate in, such as school activities or recitals, plus the chance to participate
- Unrestricted communication with children at set times, such as telephone calls, emails or letters
- Contact information for the children if they will be away from the primary residence for more than a day
- Access to children's school records and medical records upon request
- Notice of any emergency concerning the children within a reasonable time period
Whether or not you have sole physical custody of your children, you are an important part of their lives and bring unique talents and insight into raising them. A parenting plan allows you and the other parent to set aside differences and provide the best environment for your children.
The visitation schedules set up in a sole custody parenting plan should allow the non-custodial parent plenty of time to interact with the children. Younger children benefit from shorter, more frequent contact while older children can handle longer visits.
Visitation for sole custody can be structured in many ways, depending on the children's ages, including:
- An hour or so every day or other day
- Several hours every other day
- Alternating weekends
- Alternating weekends with a mid-week visit
- Alternating weekends with two mid-week visits
- Every weekend
Having custody and visitation documents as part of your sole custody parenting plan can relieve some of the stress of divorce or separation. Visitations with the non-custodial parent should be age appropriate and any adjustments or changes ought to be introduced slowly.
You can always petition the court to accept changes to your sole custody parenting plan as long as the changes still reflect the best interest of the children. It helps to collect information about the proposed changes to support your claims.
Keep a parenting journal to document some of the basics of how your parenting plan is working. Custody X Change offers an electronic parenting journal feature that allows you to record information about how your children are doing, what parts of the parenting plan are causing conflict or stress and whether or not the other parent is supporting the plan.
Even if you and the other parent are communicating well about the sole custody parenting plan, there are going to be times when you need to make revisions based on the changes your children go through as they mature.