How to Make Your Parenting Plan or Agreement

Your parenting plan or custody agreement outlines how you and the other parent will continue to care and provide for your child after you separate.

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An effective plan is personalized to fit the needs of your family and contains the following information.

Physical custody and schedule

Physical custody determines who houses the child. Either parents will share joint physical custody somewhat evenly, or one parent will have sole physical custody and the other significantly less time with the child.

Once you state a type of physical custody in your plan, include a parenting time schedule to explain when your child will be with each parent. Your schedule should include the daily living schedule, holidays and vacation time.

Your plan must describe your schedule clearly in legal terms.

You can also make a calendar and attach it to your plan to show specific months or years in detail.

Legal custody

Your plan must designate if one parent will have sole legal custody or if parents will share joint legal custody. This determines who will have the authority to make decisions for and about your child.


Information about exchanges in your plan helps your schedule run smoothly. You need to decide where and how exchanges will take place.

Your plan can also explain how the parents will communicate about schedule changes and rescheduling parenting time.

Medical and health care

Your plan should contain medical and health care provisions that explain who will take the child to health appointments, whether the child will receive vaccines, what will happen during a pandemic and more.

Education and extracurricular activities

The education information in your plan can include if and where your child will attend summer school, who will serve as an emergency contact for the school, and more.

You can also put information about what extracurricular activities your child will participate in and who may attend those activities.

Child care

Your plan can explain when a child is old enough to stay home alone and how the parents will decide on child care for the child.

You can also include the right of first option, which says that if a parent isn't available for part of their scheduled parenting time, the other parent will be offered the time.

Parenting guidelines

Parenting guidelines are rules in the parenting plan about discipline, diet, living conditions, screen usage and more.

For example, you might set a rule that parents must have a latched gate at the top of any staircase the child can access until the child reaches a certain age.

Parent communication

The information in your plan about parent communication should include what methods the parents will use to communicate and how soon they must respond to each other. You can also set minimums or maximums for how often parents will be in touch.

Plans often require parents to keep each other updated with their latest contact information.

Child and parent relationships

Your plan should protect your child's relationships with both parents. You can include information about telephone and video calls and other communication between the child and the parents.

You can also specify that each parent will encourage the child to have a good relationship with the other parent, that neither parent will speak negatively about the other parent in front of the child, and that the parents will not use the child as a messenger.

Traveling and moving with the child

Provisions about traveling and moving with the child could include limits on where the parents can take the child and a requirement to provide an itinerary when traveling with the child.

Moving provisions can include that a parent cannot move the child out of a particular area and that notice must be given a certain number of days before a move.

Money and child support

Your plan will probably cover a wide variety of financial topics, from who will claim the child as a dependent for taxes to how parents will reimburse each other when necessary.

Don't forget to think about government benefits, lawyer fees and the child's money.

You can include a child support agreement in your plan, but be aware that U.S. courts have strict child support rules and might not approve your arrangement.

Disagreements and revising the plan

Your plan must contain information about how you and the other parent will revise the plan as it becomes necessary.

Set a process for reviewing the plan, including a way to resolve disagreements about it.

Special needs of the child

You can include provisions in your plan to address any special considerations for your child or your family. Think about health conditions, learning needs, autism, work schedules, extended family members and beyond. Find a parenting plan tool, like Custody X Change, that lets you enter custom provisions.

Considerations when making your parenting plan

Here are some things to consider as you make your custody plan:

  • First and foremost, your child's needs and well-being
  • The strengths of each parent
  • The child care responsibilities each parent had before the separation
  • The involvement of each parent in the child's recreational and extracurricular activities
  • How the parents want to share parenting responsibilities
  • If you have multiple children, their relationships with each other and whether they need individual time with each parent
  • Your child's preferences
  • How you and the other parent will put your child's needs above your own
  • How you and the other parent will protect your child from your disagreements

Your should also remember that:

Get help with your parenting plan or agreement

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

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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