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Parenting Plan

Make Your Own Parenting Plan

Utilize our Parenting Plan template to establish clear and comprehensive parenting arrangements for your children following a separation.

A parenting plan, sometimes referred to as a child custody agreement, delineates the roles and responsibilities of each parent in cases of separation or divorce. These plans can be integrated into a Separation Agreement or Divorce Agreement. Some parents opt for two distinct Parenting Plans for court submission, while others collaborate to reach an agreement before finalizing and signing the plan.

Table of Contents

Creating an Optimal Parenting Arrangement: The Role of a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the custody, visitation, and responsibilities of each parent when they are separated or divorced. It serves as a guide for co-parenting and helps to minimize conflicts by clearly defining expectations and roles. Typically included in a Separation Agreement or Divorce Agreement, a parenting plan can be submitted to the court for consideration. It plays a crucial role in ensuring the well-being and stability of the child during and after a separation or divorce.

Creating a Parenting Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

When you're navigating the complexities of separation or divorce and need to outline parenting arrangements for your children, a well-structured parenting plan is crucial. While seeking legal advice is beneficial, you can also create a parenting plan yourself, and many courts prefer parents to submit their own plans as they understand their children's needs best. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Parent and Child Information

  • Begin by providing the names, contact information, and birthdates of both parents.
  • In the agreement, you and your co-parent will be referred to as "First Parent" and "Second Parent," and your child(ren) will be referred to as the "minor child."

Step 2: Custody Arrangements

  • Clearly detail the legal and physical custody arrangements for your child(ren).
  • Options include Sole Legal Custody, Joint Legal Custody, Sole Physical Custody, and Joint Physical Custody.

Step 3: Create a Parenting/Visitation Schedule

  • If one parent has sole or primary physical custody, outline the visitation rights of the other parent.
  • For joint physical custody, create a parenting schedule detailing when the child(ren) will spend time with each parent.

Parenting Schedule Options Include

  • Alternating weeks
  • 2-2-3 rotation (splitting the week and alternating long weekends)
  • Alternating weeks with a midweek visit or overnight stay

Holiday Schedule

  • Specify major holidays and school vacations, indicating which parent the child(ren) will spend them with.

Step 4: Determine Parent Rights and Responsibilities

  • Define parents' rights to participate in their child's activities and make decisions about their education, healthcare, and more.
  • Clearly outline communication expectations in specific situations and any terms based on your family's unique needs.

Step 5: Financial Arrangements

  • Detail how child-related expenses will be divided between co-parents.
  • Specify who will claim the child(ren) as dependents on taxes and who will provide medical insurance.
  • If applicable, include the monthly child support amount to be paid by the noncustodial parent.

Step 6: Sign the Document According to State Requirements

  • Check your state's laws regarding signatures; some may require witnesses or a notary public.
  • Even if not required, having witnesses can help verify the agreement's authenticity in case of disputes.

Elements that Should be Included in Parenting Plan

A comprehensive Parenting Plan should encompass several key elements to ensure effective co-parenting and clarity in child-rearing responsibilities:

  1. Custody Arrangements: Clearly define the type of custody (e.g., joint, sole) and outline how major decisions regarding the child's upbringing will be made.
  1. Parenting/Visitation Schedules: Specify a detailed schedule for when each parent will have physical custody of the child, including weekday and weekend arrangements, school vacations, and summer breaks.
  1. Holiday Schedule: Establish a plan for how holidays, special occasions, and other significant dates will be shared or rotated between both parents.
  1. Medical Decisions & Health Insurance: Outline how medical decisions for the child will be made and detail how health insurance coverage and medical expenses will be managed.
  1. Communication Between Parents: Clearly define guidelines for effective communication between parents, including methods (e.g., phone, email, co-parenting apps) and expectations for sharing important information about the child.
  1. Child Support/Expenses: Specify child support arrangements, including the amount, frequency, and method of payment. Additionally, address how other child-related expenses (e.g., education, extracurricular activities) will be divided between the parents.
  1. Education and Extracurricular Activities: Describe how decisions about the child's education and participation in extracurricular activities will be made and financed.
  1. Relocation: Include provisions for handling potential relocations by one or both parents, addressing how it will impact custody and visitation arrangements.
  1. Dispute Resolution: Outline a process for resolving disputes or disagreements that may arise between parents, such as mediation or involving a third party.
  1. Transportation and Exchange Locations: Specify where and how child exchanges will occur, as well as arrangements for transportation, if necessary.
  1. Grandparent and Extended Family Visitation: Address whether grandparents or extended family members will have visitation rights and, if so, under what circumstances.
  1. Parenting Expenses: Detail how shared parenting expenses, such as school supplies, clothing, and childcare, will be handled.
  1. Child's Personal Belongings: Clarify how the child's personal belongings will be managed and exchanged between households.
  1. Parental Travel and Vacations: Discuss how parental travel plans and vacations will be coordinated in a way that minimizes disruption to the child's routine.
  1. Emergency Contacts and Medical Consent: Provide emergency contact information for both parents and outline procedures for obtaining medical treatment in case of emergencies.
  1. Legal Provisions: Include any necessary legal clauses and conditions to ensure the enforceability of the plan.

Tips For Parenting Plan

Here are some valuable guidelines for crafting a parenting plan:

  1. Initiate the Parenting Plan Early: Start creating your parenting plan as soon as possible, particularly during a divorce or separation process. This early planning minimizes disruptions to your child's routine and promotes their overall well-being.
  1. Consider Your Children's Input: Take into account your children's preferences and desires, especially if they are older and capable of expressing their thoughts and feelings. In important decisions like holiday arrangements, involving them can help create a sense of inclusion and understanding.
  1. Establish a Unified Communication Method: Specify a consistent method of communication with your co-parent. This might involve using an online platform, email, or a co-parenting app. Having a designated communication channel streamlines discussions and schedule sharing, and it serves as a reference point if disputes arise or if the plan needs to be enforced legally.


What are the most common parenting plans?

The most prevalent parenting plans for 50/50 custody arrangements typically fall into several common schedules, which include:

  1. 2-2-3 Schedule: In this arrangement, one parent has the child for two days, followed by the other parent for two days, and then a three-day stretch with the first parent. This pattern repeats.
  1. 3-4-4-3 Schedule: This plan involves one parent having the child for three days, followed by four days with the other parent, and then reversing the arrangement for the next week.
  1. 2-2-5-5 Schedule: With this schedule, one parent has the child for two days, followed by the other parent for two days, and then each parent has the child for five consecutive days in alternating weeks.
  1. Alternating Weeks: In this straightforward arrangement, the child spends one full week with one parent and then the following week with the other parent, and so on.

What is parental planning?

Parental planning refers to a formalized agreement crafted by co-parents to address the practical aspects of raising children together. Co-parents are individuals who jointly assume the responsibilities of child-rearing, particularly in cases where they are separated or no longer in a romantic relationship.

Sample For Parenting Plan

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Related Family Matters Contracts
  • Cohabitation Agreement : Utilize our Cohabitation Agreement to specify the obligations of an unmarried couple cohabiting together.
  • Divorce Agreement : Use our Divorce Settlement Agreement to settle divorce details outside of court.
  • Family Member Proof of Residency Letter : Utilize our Family Member Proof of Residency Letter Template to confirm that another family member resides at a particular address.
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