33+ Sample Parenting Plan Templates

What Is a Parenting Plan?

While legal terms “custody” and “visitation” were commonly used in courtroom sessions, court systems eventually associated with family-friendly or appropriate terminologies, including parenting plans. That is, according to HG.org. But what exactly is it? Parenting plans are another term for child custody agreement plans. With this, couples negotiate particular agreements about how to raise their kids. To be more specific, such a scheme aims to share parental responsibilities even when parents are no longer married. Expect this proposal during marital separation or divorce. Also, the law requires married couples or those who are still cohabitating to have this method as preparation for the worst circumstances.


The American Psychological Association (APA) stated that 40 or 50% of registered couples in America end in divorce.

Did you know that in the US, 15.76 million kids live with a single mom, while 3.23 million kids live with a single dad in 2019?

Moreover, the Census Bureau noted in a 2013 study that there were already 14.4 million Americans considered custodial parents.

Why Are Parenting Plans Important?

Why is a parenting plan essential, you may ask? Go back to how it focuses on children. Without plans set for the young, they would lack financial support, education, food, and parental guidance. Despite parents breaking up, working together on the custody arrangement is one of the positive effects a parenting plan gives. A harmonious agreement is much better than ending with arguments that will lead to serious litigation in court. More so, the scheme tackles how many times a parent can visit a child, how to communicate on essential matters, and how much the budget is for child maintenance.

Also, parenting plans are less expensive than litigation. In case parents have a hard time agreeing with each other, resolution methods apply anyway, including mediation and arbitration. Thus, a third party can help decide for a better solution. These proposals are flexible, so incorporating numerous solutions is encouraged. With clarified guidelines regarding how to conduct parenting, the kids will be on good terms despite being in separate long-distance households.

How Are Parenting Plans Negotiated?

In America, the majority of divorces do not happen inside courtrooms. Instead, many prefer negotiations outside by ending in a divorce settlement agreement. To come up with a reasonable deal, parents undergo independent consultation. Or perhaps, with mediation and negotiations handled by family law attorneys. Others even go for a notarized form to boost the plan’s validity. Nevertheless, the final option for parties, when they cannot meet children’s mutual interests, is to allow the court to take over.

Subject Matters to Discuss in a Parenting Plan

Since the US is known to have a 40 to 50% chance of couples ending in divorce, authorities established methods to prepare for such unforeseen circumstances. An example is the requirement of a prenuptial agreement before even getting married. Of course, parenting plans are part of such solutions. But what are the common topics discussed in that proposal? Here are the common subjects to discuss inside the parenting plan:

Parenting Schedule: As parents are expected to be apart, that means the children’s time to visit each home will differ. Plan a detailed schedule on who picks up the kid first and until what time of the day. Ensure that a fair exchange happens since parents would end in disagreement when one party has more time with the child while the other only has a few hours.Holidays and Special Dates: Other dates to take note of are holidays or special days. During a school break or any other day when both ex-couples are free, who gets to spend time with their kids? Include this into your schedule plan so that everything remains clear on where the child goes during these particular dates. Travel and Vacations: Vacation travel must be planned. Remember that you still need to book for flights or hotels early. Also, who will pay for the transportation fee? And who is allowed or prohibited to travel with the kids? Note that in the proposal.Schedule Changes: Sometimes, things do not go according to plan. Subtle changes may occur, including the parties’ preferred schedule. Thus, parties must inform one another about their proposed changes until they come in agreement at some point. Maybe there is an emergency that changes are crucial. For sure, the latter would understand the situation if explained thoroughly.Extended Families and Friends: When a marriage contract ends, it does not only affect the parents and children. Extended family members and friends are part of the picture too. A mother’s closest friend or the father’s best pal might want to communicate with the child. The same goes for those related by blood like grandparents, cousins, and other relatives. To keep the child safe, bring up which individuals should not be in contact with the kid by writing it in the form.Expenses: Now, for one of the most important topics to cover in a parenting plan. How do parties deal with their child’s costs? Expenses involve a lot from school tuition, food, travel expense, medical fees, and clothing. How to divide the budget is the main concern here. Things may not end in a 50-50 division in expenditures though if one party earns more than the other. Your parenting plan needs to specify this according to your divorce’s or separation’s court decision.Communication When Away: Next, what if the current parent assigned to meet with a child is not available? While the mother or father is away, getting in touch with these kids must never be forgotten. To communicate, parties can depend on calling via phone, chatting online, and other related examples. As much as possible, pick the method that best suits the family. By that, it means what everyone prefers is recommended.Co-Parent Communication: In addition to communication, how parents discuss with each other is another concern. They should form a reliable communication plan to contact one another. How often parties communicate should be written inside the document as well.Other Significant Decisions: Aside from the factors mentioned above, more important decisions can be made along the way. An example is to finalize decisions regarding health care, child care, discipline, school, and so much more. Think ahead about the rest of the aspects that will concern the kid afterward.

How to Craft an Acceptable Parenting Plan

The Census Bureau informed us that 14.4 million Americans are labeled custodial parents in a 2013 research survey. Moreover, Statista shared that 15.76 million kids have single mothers, whereas 3.23 million children have single fathers. With these statistics alone, it is safe to say that many people do not live in a perfect marriage. Even though relationships did not work out, perfecting the parenting plan is still vital. Hence, maintaining the children’s well-being as the central issue matters here. And how do you create a standard parenting plan? Simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Write Down the Parties’ Information

First things first, identify who is part of the parenting plan. Of course, this tells you to name the parents and the child. Aside from the names, input the rest of the basic information from birth dates, contact numbers, addresses, and the like. Any plan requires the parties’ details for formality and identification purposes. Make sure only to write accurate information and check the spelling.

Step 2: Note the Guidelines

As parents come up with an agreement through this plan, guidelines become necessary. How will each party know which is the right thing to do or not anyway? Ensure adherence to all rules and regulations by stating the provisions, requirements, or restrictions. Otherwise, the plan is null.

Step 3: Define the Care Arrangement

Now for the main course of the document. Input the care arrangement details. Are you wondering what content should be inside here? Recall those subject matters commonly found in parenting plans that we discussed earlier. Those are the topics needed in this section of the document. Such an arrangement fully describes the whole tasks involving the kids’ care and upbringing. Clarify how tasks are divided among parents and in which both parents must agree.

Step 4: Specify the Parental Responsibilities

Expound further the arrangements by detailing every parental responsibility to fulfill. Remember that if one parent does not have a responsibility here, then the plan itself is wholly an access arrangement. What is an access arrangement? It is when the mother or father is no longer responsible for the child’s upbringing; however, he or she can still communicate with the child.

Step 5: Consider Entry by a Court

Most of the time, parenting plans come with consent, whether it is stipulated or endorsed. Such a policy is quickly approved when the entire scheme itself is stipulated. Furthermore, it should be consistent enough to reach the best interest of the kids. Thus requiring parties to be present in court. Courtroom activities are nothing to be scared of since they only aim to lessen the inconvenience and stress behind separation. Having the right authorities to guide you is a step closer to familiarizing yourself with the whole setup. Lastly, both partners must sign the form for compliance.


What happens when you violate a parenting plan?

In violating a parenting plan which the court already agreed or ordered upon, it only puts the risk of litigation. Legal consequences, relating to custody and visitation, may follow as well. However, consequences may differ depending on what is stipulated under the agreement plan. Review the form’s guidelines regarding such violations then.

What is the most typical child custody arrangement?

Joint custody marks as the most common example of a custody arrangement. This example allows parents to work together in making significant decisions for the good of the child. Also, it grants a fair share of spending time with kids. Additionally, joint custody covers education, medical care plan, religion, and other related topics.

Are text messages useful in a custody court?

In California, having the other party send text messages that are useful for your case can be allowed in court. But, it involves particular exceptions. An example is when such messages contain important revelations or threats which help in undermining the latter’s case.

Matt Walsh once said, “Parenting is the easiest thing to have an opinion on, but the hardest thing in the world to do.” By that statement, it tells us that parenting is more than loving each other. Even when parents break up, they still have responsibilities to care for the young. There is no need to compete when co-parenting anyway. It is supposed to be a collaboration to guide kids in their best interests. Using a well-thought-out parenting plan guides you in your child’s good upbringing.