Creating a Sole Custody Parenting Plan

How do I make a sole custody parenting plan?

You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with a lawyer or legal professional to create one. If you don't want to pay the high cost of a lawyer, make your own agreement using the Custody X Change software.

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

Make My Parenting Plan Now

What exactly is a sole custody parenting plan?

A sole custody parenting plan outlines the responsibilities of both parents as well as the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent. The custodial parent is responsible for physically caring for the children while the other parent is awarded visitation.

It's important to know the difference between sole physical custody and sole legal custody. Sole physical custody occurs when children reside full-time with one parent, and the other is allowed visitation. Sole legal custody is when the custodial parent makes all the decisions about the children's lives, including schooling, health care and religious upbringing.

Your sole custody parenting plan can help you, the other parent and your children adapt more quickly to the new living arrangements. The plan should outline specific visitation protocols for the noncustodial parent and gives everyone a guideline to follow. A sole custody parenting plan also spells out each parent's responsibilities.

Custody X Change software offers you several parenting plan templates that can help you create a workable parenting plan for all types of custody arrangements, even sole custody. A well-written plan can also lower the conflict between parents, encouraging them to work together for the sake of the children.

What should a sole custody parenting plan include?

An effective sole custody parenting plan should include everything you and the other parent need to create a healthy and stable environment for your children. When creating a plan best suited to your family, take into consideration the unique needs of each child.

A successful sole custody parenting plan should include details about:

  • Custody specifics as outlined by the court decision
  • Visitation times and the outline of when and how transfers occur
  • Clear, easy-to-read schedule
  • Where children will spend holidays, vacations, birthdays and other nontraditional days
  • Education decisions for each child
  • Discipline agreements and other child-rearing details
  • Medical coverage and health care requirements
  • New relationship protocol for each parent, including dating and remarriage
  • Steps on how to resolve disagreements, such as seeking third-party mediation
  • Set times to discuss revisions to the parenting plan, such as annually or when children pass certain developmental milestones

The best sole custody parenting plans are flexible to accommodate the children's needs as they grow and mature. While physical and legal custody may be awarded to one parent, children need the involvement and support of both parents for healthy development.

Children go through plenty of upheaval during a divorce, so your sole custody parenting plan should introduce as little change as possible at first. You can always make revisions to the plan as the children grow.

Who should create the sole custody parenting plan?

Family courts prefer that parents create parenting plans together that are tailored to the needs of their children and better fit their own schedules. Parents who can agree on the details in a sole parenting plan are more likely to follow it.

Many parents turn to custody software, such as Custody X Change, to help them create a parenting plan without court involvement. Custody X Change offers templates for parenting plans that you can customize to address issues for various custody arrangements.

If you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement on a parenting plan and visitation schedule, the court will make the decision for you. Of course, it is better for your children to have their parents make decisions on their behalf. Put aside your differences and work together to create a document that will significantly influence your children's lives.

If you cannot work with the other parent on a sole custody parenting plan for any reason, you can prepare your own parenting plan to submit to the court and provide examples of why it is in your children's best interest that the plan be approved. Custody X Change software is an excellent resource when you create a parenting plan alone.

How do noncustodial parents benefit from sole custody parenting plans?

While the custodial parent retains the majority of the responsibility in raising the children, the noncustodial parent is still entitled to certain rights that can be outlined in the parenting plan. When divorced parents adhere to a thoughtful parenting plan, it can reduce conflict and miscommunication.

Some parents mistakenly believe that sole custody parenting plans give some unfair advantage to the custodial parent. In reality, a parenting plan outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parents.

A sole custody parenting plan paves the way for you and the other parent to be involved in your children's lives regardless of who has physical custody. When you both are on the same page when it comes to child raising, you can focus on being a good parent rather than quarreling with each other.

The noncustodial parent should ensure that a sole custody parenting plan includes these 6 conditions, unless prohibited by law:

  1. Clear schedule outlining visitation times that encourages quality interaction with children
  2. Reasonable notice of any activities or events the children participate in, such as school activities or recitals, plus the chance to participate
  3. Unrestricted communication with children at set times, such as telephone calls, emails or letters
  4. Contact information for the children if they will be away from the primary residence for more than a day
  5. Access to children's school records and medical records upon request
  6. Notice of any emergency concerning the children within a reasonable time period

Whether or not you have sole physical custody of your children, you are an important part of their lives and bring unique talents and insight into raising them. A parenting plan allows you and the other parent to set aside differences and provide the best environment for your children.

What visitation schedules are common in sole custody parenting plans?

The visitation schedules set up in a sole custody parenting plan should allow the noncustodial parent plenty of time to interact with the children. Younger children benefit from shorter, more frequent contact while older children can handle longer visits.

Visitation for sole custody can be structured in many ways, depending on the children's ages, including:

  • An hour or so every day or other day
  • Several hours every other day
  • Alternating weekends
  • Alternating weekends with a mid-week visit
  • Alternating weekends with two mid-week visits
  • Every weekend

Having custody and visitation documents as part of your sole custody parenting plan can relieve some of the stress of divorce or separation. Visitations with the noncustodial parent should be age appropriate and any adjustments or changes ought to be introduced slowly.

Can I revise my sole custody parenting plan?

You can always petition the court to accept changes to your sole custody parenting plan as long as the changes still reflect the best interest of the children. It helps to collect information about the proposed changes to support your claims.

Keep a parenting journal to document some of the basics of how your parenting plan is working. Custody X Change offers a parenting journal that allows you to record information about how your children are doing, what parts of the parenting plan are causing conflict or stress and whether or not the other parent is supporting the plan.

Even if you and the other parent are communicating well about the sole custody parenting plan, there are going to be times when you need to make revisions based on the changes your children go through as they mature.

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.

Make My Parenting Plan Now

Explore examples of common schedules

Join the 50,000+ 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.

Make My Plan



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.

Make My Parenting Plan Now

No thanks, I don't need a parenting plan