Guidelines for Effective Parent Plans

How do I make an effective parent plan?

You can write up your own parenting plan on your own or with the other parent. You can also work with a lawyer or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of a lawyer, and want to create your own agreement, use the Custody X Change software.

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

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Is there an effective parent plan somewhere I can use?

Because no two families live under the exact same set of circumstances, there is no single perfect parenting plan. Among the difficulties that face divorcing parents is determining how they will co-parent while living separate lives.

Each family is different and therefore the most effective parenting plan for you will be based on your unique circumstances. Above all, the best interests of your children should come first when you create a parenting plan.

Even though your adult relationship is over, your role as a parent lasts a lifetime. To minimize the hurt and pain your separation is causing your children, implement an effective parenting plan that supports them and allows them to thrive.

An effective parenting plan ensures that your children are receiving developmentally appropriate parenting from you both. Such plans also reduce stress for the children, as well as for you and the other parent.

The most effective plans address all the factors that contribute to your current family's needs. As parents, you both must commit to making that parenting plan work.

How do I begin creating an effective parenting plan?

To create an effective parenting plan for your children, you and the other parent must honestly assess the most important aspects of your parenting responsibilities as well as what is in your children's best interests. Custody X Change software provides parenting plan templates to help you get started.

Here are some things to discuss about your family as you and the other parent begin creating a parenting plan:

  • Each child's age and maturity level
  • Distance between both parent's homes
  • Parent's work schedules
  • Children's day care and school schedules
  • Each child's hobbies, classes or sport activities after school
  • Any third party involvement, such as day care or visits to grandparents
  • Past routines for the children prior to separation
  • Developmental, medical or social needs for each child
  • Amount of care by each parent prior to separation
  • Holiday traditions as celebrated prior to separation

Of course, each child develops at his or her own pace, so you must always factor in special situations or circumstances that make your child's experiences unique. When families have several children at different ages and developmental stages, it makes sense to look at each individual child's needs when creating your parenting plan.

Custody X Change software allows you to create your own customized parenting plan from provisions designed to address the needs of separating parents with children of all ages.

What are the goals of an effective parenting plan?

An effective parenting plan must include key goals that, when achieved, provide for the physical and emotional needs of your children as they navigate between two homes.

You can tell when your parenting plan is successful because the day-to-day decisions that come with co-parenting run smoothly and instances of miscommunication and frustration are minimized.

Your parenting plan should strive for these 4 goals:

  1. Minimize the loss of routine, hobbies, friends, home and other familiar and important features of your children's lives.
  2. Maximize time with both parents, as well as extended family members, to reassure the children that they are loved and supported, and will be for as long as they need it.
  3. Promote your children's emotional and social development by avoiding conflict and meeting developmental milestones.
  4. Allow for flexibility to adapt and change the parenting plan to suit everybody involved, knowing that each person will be required to sacrifice for each other.

Children thrive when both parents provide stable support and meaningful involvement throughout the developmental years. You and the other parent possess different qualities that contribute to your children's growth and maturity, so use these goals to create a parenting plan that capitalizes on your strengths.

Why do we even need an effective parent plan?

You and the other parent should create a detailed, workable parenting plan, so you won't be stuck with a thin, unrealistic schedule that becomes a source of tension and frustration. Avoid creating an unworkable parenting plan or one that limits your children's lives by conducting an honest assessment of your family dynamics.

While there is plenty of hurt and pain associated with divorce, parents who truly care for their children's happiness must put that aside to create a safe, reliable parenting plan for them. When parents refuse to be flexible and compromise for their children, their parenting plan will not be effective.

Without an effective parenting plan, your children may experience:

  • Missed time with one or both parents
  • Reduced or missed playtime with friends
  • Few to no opportunities for activities
  • Belated or inadequate medical attention
  • Belated or inadequate psychological attention
  • Increased problems at school with behavior or grades
  • Reduced contact with relatives, such as grandparents
  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Reduced emotional and mental development
  • Increased frustration, depression or anger
  • Enhanced resentment toward one or both parents

You and the other parent must put aside your problems with each other to make sure you are thinking and acting as parents first. Your unique parenting plan should include age-appropriate schedules, consistent parenting techniques and similar goals, just as you would incorporate if you and the other parent were still together.

How will I know when a previously effective parent plan stops working?

Your parenting plan is no longer an effective co-parenting guide when you notice conflicts, miscommunications and stresses arising that were not there before. A parenting plan is only effective when it addresses your child's age-appropriate needs, so as kids pass certain milestones, the plan must change with them.

A previously effective parenting plan can get off track when big life changes occur to you, the other parent or one of your children. Examples include remarriage, new jobs, new siblings, relocation, changing schools, medical conditions or new activities.

Re-evaluate your plan when these or any other major life changes happen. When you need to adjust your parenting plan or schedule, choose Custody X Change because the user-friendly program makes it easy.

Print out your new calendar created with Custody X Change software or access it from your mobile device so that everyone is following the same schedule.

Will an effective parenting plan help reduce my legal costs?

If you and the other parent can come to an agreement on how to structure a parenting plan, it can save you time and money to have others draw up a plan for you. It can also spare you from the court deciding what is best for your children.

As parents, make an effective parenting plan based on what you know your children need rather than spending time and money for someone else to decide.

You and the other parent can work together to reduce the expense of court litigation by using Custody X Change to start the process of creating a parenting plan. The more you can agree on, the less time the lawyers and the courts will need to spend on it.

Ultimately, the parenting plan you and the other parent develop benefits not just your children, but you as well. Even if you can't agree on everything, negotiation and mediation options — coupled with parenting plan software like Custody X Change — are significantly less costly than battling it out in court.

No cost is too great to ensure the health and well-being of your children, but an effective parenting plan that you and the other parent agree on can be priceless in showing your children how much you love and support them, and stabilizing your relationship with the other parent.

The easiest way to make a parenting plan

Creating a parenting plan on your own can feel overwhelming. You have to be sure to use airtight legal language and can't omit any required information.

Use technology to take the guesswork out of the equation. The Custody X Change app walks you through each step of creating a comprehensive parenting plan.

The result is a professional document that demonstrates your competence as a parent and secures your child's future.

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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Long distance schedules

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Summer break

Parenting provisions


How to make a schedule

Factors to consider

Parenting plans:

Making a parenting plan

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Interstate, long distance

Temporary plans

Guides by location:

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Scheduling guidelines

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Age guidelines:

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18 months to 3 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 13 years

13 to 18 years


Joint physical custody

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Sole legal custody

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Journal what happens

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Calculate time & overnights

Ways to use:

Succeed by negotiating

Prepare for mediation

Get ready for court


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

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