Creating the Perfect Parenting Agreement

How do I make my parenting agreement?

You can wait to start writing a parenting agreement until you've nailed down details with the other parent, or you can create drafts earlier in the process. Ideally, parents should work together closely, rather than have one simply sign off at the end.

You can have a lawyer write your custody agreement — or if you want to save money, you can write it yourself. To do this easily, you can use the Custody X Change app.

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What should my parenting agreement contain?

Your parenting agreement should contain any information that you and the other parent need to raise your child after you separate.

The general parts of a parenting agreement are:

  • A parenting time schedule
  • Information about how the parents will make decisions for the child
  • Information about finances and expenses
  • Parenting provisions (rules about raising the child)
  • Any other information you want to include

Your agreement should be personalized to fit the needs of your child and your unique situation. Each part of your agreement should work for your family and benefit your child.

The parenting time schedule

You make a parenting time schedule to show when your child is with each parent.

A good schedule has the following:

Custody X Change guides you through the process of creating each part of your schedule. Then, it puts your schedule into a calendar so you know exactly what's going on.

Creating your schedule with Custody X Change allows you to:

  • Explore options for your schedule until you find the right one for your child
  • Calculate the parenting time you'll have with your child
  • Easily make changes to your schedule as circumstances change
  • Include time the child spends without either parent
  • Sync your custody schedule with Google Calendar, iCalendar, etc.
  • Share your schedule with the other parent so you both know what's going on

Decision-making responsibility

Your agreement needs to explain how you and the other parent will make decisions for your child about medical care, dental care, education, religion, extracurricular activities, etc.

Here are some ways you can share or divide the decision-making responsibility:

  • One parent has sole authority to make big decisions
  • Both parents have authority to make big decisions individually
  • Parents make all big decisions together
  • Each parent is in charge of certain types of decisions
  • When each parent has the child, they make decisions for the child

When you make your agreement in Custody X Change, the "decision-making" section of the parenting plan template helps you decide what decision-making authority to select and how to explain it.

Finances and expenses

In most states, you need to file child support papers along with your parenting agreement. You may want to include child support information in your agreement so you have everything together.

Since support is often dependent on parenting time, you can use the parenting time calculator in Custody X Change to help you get the right information for your state's child support formula.

You should also come up with a plan for how you and the other parent will handle additional expenses for the child and put the information in your agreement. This includes expenses for school activities and other things that child support may not cover.

Parenting rules and provisions

You can put additional parenting rules and provisions in your agreement to make the custody situation work better.

Some common provisions that parents include are:

  • The right of first refusal, which gives a parent the first right to have the child if the other parent needs child care
  • Information about transportation to and from exchanges
  • A rule that parents must provide each other with an itinerary when they travel with the child
  • A rule that parents will not speak negatively about each other in front of the child
  • A process for how parents will resolve disputes
  • A method for making changes to the agreement as the child's needs change

Custody X Change has more than 140 provisions you can choose from, and you can make as many custom rules as you like. Think about common problems in your situation and come up with a provision that will help.

Any other information

If your child has special needs or you have a unique situation, address that in your agreement. To get the best agreement, use the Custody X Change parenting plan template and then include any extra information that is relevant to your circumstances.

How do I know if my agreement is successful?

You may want to track your actual parenting time and keep a parenting journal after you create your agreement.

Tracking your visitation time lets you know how well the schedule is working and being followed. If there are frequent problems, you may need to modify the schedule. And if the actual parenting time is quite different then the scheduled time, your child support could change.

You can also keep a parenting journal to record information about your child. You can use these notes when you communicate with the other parent or if you have to go to court.

Custody X Change has actual-time tracking and journaling features that let you:

  • Print a report that shows the difference between scheduled and actual parenting time
  • Keep a custody journal and attach photos and documents
  • Keep all of your tracking information in one place
  • Use the information to modify your schedule in court or mediation

How do I make my agreement official?

Check your state custody procedures to find out how to file your agreement. You may need to file specific papers, or you may be able to submit your own written plan.

Custody X Change can help you prepare these documents to file with the court:

If your state requires specific documents, you can write the information from Custody X Change onto the papers so you're assured the language is court-ready with no loopholes.

If your state lets you submit your own plan, you can submit your Custody X Change documents directly. You can print them or save them as a Microsoft Word or PDF document.

If you and the other parent agree on the plan, you can submit it to the court and the judge will almost always approve it. If you and the other parent do not cooperate on the agreement, you will go to trial.

After your agreement is approved by the judge, it becomes an official court order. This means that you and the other parent are legally obligated to follow it. If either parent doesn't, the court can enforce your agreement.

If you don't file your agreement with the court, the court cannot help you if the other parent violates it.

The easiest way to make a parenting agreement

Creating a parenting agreement on your own can feel overwhelming. You have to address all possible situations, while using airtight legal language.

Use technology to take the guesswork out of the equation. The Custody X Change app walks you through each step of creating an agreement.

The result will be 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 agreement 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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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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