Tips on Negotiating a Custody Schedule

How do I make a custody schedule to bring to negotiations?

You can create a custody and visitation schedule on your own, with the other parent or hire a lawyer or legal professional to help you. If you don't want to pay the high cost of a lawyer, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.

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

Make My Parenting Schedule Now

Why would I be negotiating a custody schedule?

You will be negotiating a custody schedule with the other parent in order to ensure your children have appropriate parenting time with each of you.

When you and the other parent begin the process of divorcing, the family court is primarily interested in preserving the health and well being of your children. A custody schedule is an official document that outlines where the children will be and with which parent.

While there may be a few instances where divorcing parents agree completely on a custody schedule, the majority of parents must engage in negotiations in order to come to an agreement on how they will raise their children once divorced.

Divorce generates a range of emotions, from frustration and animosity to outright anger. Negotiations can be difficult to conduct when emotions are high. You and the other parent must put aside your differences and work together to create a custody schedule that benefits your children.

Using software such as Custody X Change can get you started because it contains templates for custody schedules that can be customized to fit your family. Sometimes, starting with a neutral schedule enables parents to stop fighting and start negotiating.

Who can help me with negotiating a custody schedule?

You have access to many sources of help when it is time to negotiate a custody schedule agreement with the other parent.

Negotiating a custody schedule requires you and the other parent to examine each aspect of the schedule and come to some kind of agreement. It requires compromise on some things and standing firm on others. Ultimately, each decision should be made with your children's best interests in mind.

Custody software such as Custody X Change is a wise place to start your negotiations with the other parent. It provides several basic custody schedules that you can review, discuss and make revisions to. When you and the other parent create a workable custody schedule, you can print it out for your lawyers and for the court.

Your lawyer is another valuable source of help as you negotiate the custody schedule for your children. He or she can advise you on any specific regulations your state requires in custody cases and point out areas that may need revisions.

Ultimately, nobody knows your family as well as you and the other parent, and family courts would always rather see a custody schedule created together by both parents. As long as the custody schedule is shown to be in the children's best interest, it will likely be approved.

What's the benefit in negotiating a custody schedule?

The benefit in negotiating a custody schedule is that it requires you and the other parent to actively evaluate and agree upon how your children will spend time with each of you for their entire childhood.

Never agree to a custody schedule that you haven't read and evaluated very carefully. If the other parent generates a custody schedule without you, examine whether the schedule is fair and age appropriate for your children.

Some benefits that result in successfully negotiating a custody schedule include:

  • Saves you time and money because you don't have to file motions and meet with your lawyer nearly as often. This cuts legal fees and time in court.
  • Gives you some control of the outcome. If you cannot create a workable custody schedule, the court will create one for you. Negotiating allows you to create a detailed, customized agreement that fits your life better.
  • You'll gain more knowledge of custody strategies, co-parenting laws and child rearing solutions that have worked for other families as you negotiate and seek help from third party sources.

Using Custody X Change software can provide you with a starting point in negotiating visitation rights and responsibilities for both of you. Even if you agree on a large percentage of the custody schedule before seeking outside help, that's a productive thing that ensures you and the other parent are on the same team when it comes to your children's future..

What happens when negotiations break down?

If you and the other parent cannot agree in negotiating a custody schedule, the family court will decide for you. A judge will generate an order that determines custody and visitation. The decisions will be based on what the judge believes is in your children's best interests.

Negotiating with the other parent about custody schedules can be extremely hard. Both of you are likely dealing with hurt, bitterness, frustration, sadness and even anger. High emotions interfere with negotiations, preventing you from being calm and rational.

Generally, when negotiations break down, the judge may ask you and the other parent to attend workshops, classes or other programs to help you take steps toward resolving your differences enough to work together for your children.

Some of the programs or services you may be asked to participate in include:

  • Third party mediation
  • Court appointed home study
  • Divorce education class
  • Co-parenting class

You may be tempted to turn negotiating a custody schedule into a battle, but that won't benefit anyone involved. Instead, focus on the children and how you and the other parent owe them a stable life with plenty of contact from both of you..

How often can I negotiate a custody schedule?

You can petition for a change in a custody schedule as long as the revisions continue to benefit your children. Ideally, you and the other parent will both agree on the problem and the resolution. Reasons to make changes might include one parent moving away, changing schedules for parents and children or remarriage.

Here are the general steps you must take in order to re-negotiate a custody schedule:

  1. You and the other parent should agree to a revision, or you can start the process on your own by identifying the problem and proposing a solution
  2. Your lawyer must file a motion in court.
  3. You have to show the court that the current custody schedule results in substantial problems for your family
  4. You must show how modifying and revising the schedule will solve that problem
  5. Your judge must agree that the revision represents the best interests of the children

Many parents find that keeping a parenting journal helps them to keep track of important events when it comes to evaluating the custody schedule. When you use Custody X Change's electronic journal, you can print out a report of your entries for submission.

Are there any tips on negotiating a custody schedule?

You'll have more chance of success in negotiating a custody schedule with the other parent by following tips designed to guide you in making the best schedule possible for your children.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you begin negotiating a custody schedule:

  1. Get familiar with your state's child custody laws so that your custody schedule has a better chance of being accepted by the court. You'll also learn what is and is not acceptable and can stand firm when the other parent is not being realistic.
  2. Make sure you have a detailed parenting plan in place as well to cover custody issues and parenting agreements not related to schedules. What's in the parenting plan can significantly affect custody schedule results.
  3. Avoid quarreling with the other parent and set aside your emotions when negotiating a custody schedule. You won't make any progress if you are constantly sabotaging the discussion. Put your children first and your own conflict second.
  4. Clearly define your goals and priorities when it comes to the custody schedule. Explain why you feel strongly about certain topics and be flexible in other areas. Negotiation requires give-and-take, so avoid insisting on everything being your way.
  5. Respect the other parent's right to be a parent to your children. While it may make you happy to punish the other parent by creating an unfair, restrictive custody schedule, know that your children are better off with two parents in their lives. Don't sabotage the negotiations out of revenge or hurt.

Ultimately, when you can negotiate a custody schedule that benefits your children, you'll both be on your way to successfully co-parenting your children, even though you are no longer together.

The easiest way to make a custody schedule

Creating a schedule on your own can feel overwhelming. To prepare for negotiations, you may want to make several schedules quickly, and you'll need them to look good.

The Custody X Change app takes the guesswork out of the equation by helping you build a schedule piece by piece.

As a result, you get a written schedule and a visual calendar. They meet your family's needs, as well as the court's standards.

For quick, reliable and affordable help making a custody schedule, turn to Custody X Change.

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

Make My Parenting Schedule 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.

Make My Schedule



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 Schedule Now

No thanks, I don't need a parenting plan