Iowa Parenting Plans (Custody Agreements)

A parenting plan sets out how parents who are no longer in a relationship will raise their children. It covers decision-making responsibility, your child's living arrangements, and provisions (rules) for co-parenting.

Parents must submit a parenting plan as part of their divorce with children or their child custody case. Many parents negotiate the terms of their plan through an alternative dispute resolution method or one-on-one. Parents propose separate plans if they cannot reach an agreement.

If the judge confirms that your plan is in your child's best interests, it becomes part of your final decree for custody or divorce. When parents propose separate plans, the judge may include elements from both in the final version.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

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Parenting plan templates

Iowa has two templates: one for parents who agree (PDF download) and another for parents who disagree (PDF download).

Alternatively, you can use a more thorough template. The Custody X Change parenting plan template has over 140 built-in provisions and gives you the ability to create your own. You can even attach your Custody X Change plan to the state's plan to add more detail.

What you must cover in your plan

Case details

Start by listing the names of the parents and the names and birth dates of your children under 18. You should also cover any special circumstances, like whether your child is disabled.

Legal custody

Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make decisions for your child. Say if this will belong to one or both parents. If both, you can agree to collaborate on everything or give each parent control over certain topics.

Physical care

Physical care is the right and responsibility to provide the child's home and day-to-day care.

Joint physical care means both parents hold this right and responsibility. If one parent has physical care, the other typically gets visitation rights. The parent may have supervised visits if it's unsafe for the child to be alone with them.

Say which arrangement you think is best and include a schedule. If you make a schedule with Custody X Change, visual and written versions appear in your plan.

You can give legal custody or physical care to a third party if you believe it is in your child's best interests.

Optional plan provisions

Cover additional topics to easily answer parenting questions as they come up.

  • Child's screen time: Be clear about how much screen time your child is allowed to maintain consistency between households.
  • Knowing where the child is during visits: The right to know where your child is during visits is often a point of contention for parents. State how you'll stay informed of the child's location, like whether you'll use software to help.
  • Communication: Detail how parents can communicate with one another and how they'll communicate with the child during each other's parenting time.
  • Discipline: Specify how you will enforce rules in each household.
  • Child care: Who will watch the children when parents are unavailable? You may stipulate that parents must contact one another before reaching out to a babysitter.

If you agree on child support, responsibility for medical expenses or claiming the child on taxes, you can attach a settlement agreement for divorce (PDF download) or for custody (PDF download). Or simply use the built-in provisions in the Custody X Change parenting plan template.

The easiest way to make a parenting plan

When you're writing a parenting plan, it's critical you use airtight language that leaves no room for interpretation.

If you hire a lawyer, they'll write up the plan and ensure it meets the court's requirements.

If you write your own plan, use technology to take guesswork out of the equation. The parenting plan template in the Custody X Change online app walks you through each step.

The result is a professional document that demonstrates your competence as a parent from the first glance.

The easiest and most reliable way to make a parenting plan is with Custody X Change.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

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Explore examples of common schedules

Explore common schedules

Join the 60,000+ other parents who have used our co-parenting tools

Organize your evidence

Track your expenses, journal what happens, and record actual time. Print organized, professional documents.

Co-parent civilly

Our parent-to-parent messaging system, which detects hostile language, lets you collaborate without the drama.

Get an accurate child support order

Child support is based on parenting time or overnights in most jurisdictions. Calculate time instead of estimating.

Succeed by negotiating

Explore options together with visual calendars and detailed parenting plans. Present alternatives and reach agreement.

Never forget an exchange or activity

Get push notifications and email reminders, sync with other calendar apps and share with the other parent.

Save up to $50,000 by avoiding court

Write your parenting agreement without lawyers. Our templates walk you through each step.

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Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

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