Negotiating Your Parenting Plan Successfully

Parenting plans and schedules work best when parents collaborate to make custody arrangements they both support. Since each parent has different ideas, they need to negotiate with each other to make a successful plan and schedule.

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

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Here are some ways to prepare for custody negotiations.

Explore schedule options

To find a schedule that both parents support, start by exploring popular schedules. Plug a few into your Custody X Change calendar to see how they would work for you and how you can customize them.

A parenting time calculator can also help because both parents see how much time they get with the child in various schedules.

As you negotiate, you can make a few different schedules to show the other parent. You can then use their feedback to land on something you both like.

You may even want to sit down together to explore schedule options. Using a neutral tool like Custody X Change may help you focus on finding solutions rather than get sidetracked by other topics or arguments.

Select possible provisions for your parenting plan

Provisions are rules and guidelines that make your parenting plan effective for your child and both parents.

You can look through popular parenting provisions to see what's relevant to your situation. These can guide your discussions with the other parent.

Most importantly, you should consider your options for sharing or dividing legal custody and physical custody, since this is required information in every state.

Track details like parenting time

While you and the other parent are negotiating, enter your current parenting schedule into your Custody X Change calendar so you have a record. You can track canceled visits and late arrivals so you know how well the schedule is working.

You can also keep a custody journal before, during and after negotiations. Write about things like your child's mood, how exchanges go and what happens in negotiations.

These tactics give you hard facts to show the other parent and can help you reach a better parenting plan.

Prepare visuals

Clear visuals can help you quickly and easily explain your ideas to the other parent.

You can print and show the other parent:

  • Calendars that show when each parent would have the child, including over holidays
  • Parenting time reports that graph out how much each parent would have the child
  • Complete parenting plans, with custody schedules written in legal terms
  • Options for parenting plan provisions

Tips on making the negotiation successful

Here are some tips to make your negotiations successful:

  • Put your child's needs first.
  • Refrain from criticizing or accusing the other parent.
  • Be prepared to compromise.
  • Listen to the other parent, and find out what is important to them.
  • Be businesslike — courteous, professional and on-topic.
  • Plan on meeting several times. Schedule specific times and places.
  • Review your state custody guidelines so your plan follows the law.

Staying organized

Throughout negotiations — and your entire custody case — you'll need to organize a lot of information. You may need to create multiple drafts of parenting plans and schedules, track your expenses, message the other parent civilly, and more.

The Custody X Change app enables you to do all of this in one place. With a parenting plan template, custody calendars, an expense tracker, parent-to-parent messaging and beyond, Custody X Change makes sure you're prepared for whatever arises in your journey to custody and visitation.

Take advantage of our technology to stay on top of all the moving parts of your case.

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

Prepare For Negotiations Now

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.

Prepare For Negotiation



Long distance schedules

Third party schedules


Summer break

Parenting provisions


How to make a schedule

Factors to consider

Parenting plans:

Making a parenting plan

Changing your plan

Interstate, long distance

Temporary plans

Guides by location:

Parenting plans

Scheduling guidelines

Child support calculators

Age guidelines:

Birth to 18 months

18 months to 3 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 13 years

13 to 18 years


Joint physical custody

Sole physical custody

Joint legal custody

Sole legal custody

Product features:

Software overview

Printable calendars

Parenting plan templates

Journal what happens

Expense sharing

Parenting time tracking

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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