Selecting Parenting Plan Provisions

Custody X Change walks you through popular parenting plan provisions so you get a plan that's tailored to your family and meets court standards.

Before you begin, check if your state requires or prefers certain provisions, and talk to an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

When you're ready to start making selections, click the "parenting plan" tab.

More than two dozen provision categories will appear. Go through them one by one and choose the terms you want to include in your plan. You may want to do this with the other parent, your mediator or your lawyer.

Don't rush through the process; take time to think about every situation that could arise before your child becomes an adult. This often takes more than one sitting. You may even want to create multiple drafts to compare or to present to the other parent.

It's especially important you avoid the temptation to skip over categories that don't immediately strike you as relevant. They may contain key provisions you haven't considered.

Categories in which you don't make selections will not appear in your plan. Categories in which you have made selections display green check marks (as shown above). This tells you they've been added to your plan.

Tips for selecting provisions

  • When you're unsure if a provision is necessary, err on the side of caution and include it. You'll be glad to have a clear approach instead of a dispute. If the terms don't work in the future, parents can agree to an alternative or ask the court for a modification.
  • Skip over any provisions that aren't relevant to your family. Making one selection within a category doesn't require you to fill out the rest of the category.
  • When you have concerns that aren't addressed by the provisions in the app, add custom provisions (as many as you need). Click on the most appropriate category, and scroll to the "custom provision" section. Enter language that's specific, yet applies to all possible situations.
  • If the title of a category doesn't make sense for you situation, change it. Titles appear in your plan as subheadings.
  • Hit "save" at the bottom of each category page to keep your selections.
  • To see how your selections appear in the plan, head to print preview. If you're not happy with what you see, you have several options for editing your plan.

Key provisions

What's key to your family will differ from what's key to the next family. Nonetheless, the provisions below are generally considered important components of a parenting plan. Don't forget to at least consider them while making your plan.

From the custody category:

Legal custody: In this section, select whether the parents will share joint legal custody of the children or one parent will have sole legal custody. This is a required element in any parenting plan.

Physical custody: Here, select whether the parents will share joint physical custody or one will have sole physical custody and be designated the custodial parent. This is another required element in any parenting plan.

From the decision-making category:

Will major decisions require the mutual consent of both parents? Or can either parent make a decision alone? Perhaps each parent will be in charge of decisions in certain areas? Make these kinds of selections on this page. Details of how decisions can be made are routinely required by courts.

From the child support category:

On this page, define which parent will pay child support, how much and how often. Courts typically want to see these details in a parenting plan, and you may be required to follow your state's child support formula.

From the expenses category:

Health care: Other provisions often required by courts relate to who will pay for health insurance and if/how parents will split uncovered medical expenses. Indicate your selections here.

From the medical responsibilities category:

Emergencies: You can check a box in this section to require each parent to notify the other as soon as possible if the child needs emergency medical treatment.

From the school responsibilities category:

Attendance notification: You can check a box here to require each parent to notify the other as soon as possible if the child will arrive late to school, leave early or miss school entirely.

From the communication between parents category:

Communication methods: Here, you can choose how many days a parent has to respond to questions and requests from the other.

From the canceled parenting time category:

Notification: Choose how many hours of notice a parent must give when canceling parenting time.

From the transportation category:

Responsibilities: Check a box to make the parent beginning his or her custodial time the one responsible for picking up the child. Attorneys say this arrangement usually leads to more punctual exchanges than requiring the other parent to drop the child off. The parent who's already with the child often gets distracted or wants more time.

From the moving category:

Moving restrictions for the child: Here, you can check a box to prevent either parent from moving the child's residence outside of a particular city without written permission from the other parent or the court. Type in the name of the city that applies in your situation.

From the out-of-area travel category:

Passports: In this section, click the name of a parent if he or she will not be allowed to possess or apply for a passport on behalf of the child without permission from the court or other parent.

Written permission for travel with children: Check the appropriate boxes to prevent a parent from taking the child out of a certain region (country, state, etc.) without a court order or written permission from the other parent.

From the revisions category:

Failure to reach agreement: You can check a box here to stipulate that the parents must work with a licensed counselor if they cannot reach a mutual decision required by the plan.

For more ideas and information, take a look at other common parenting provisions.

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and schedules.

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