Your parenting plan, or custody agreement, is the final product of your custody case. This is the plan that is accepted by the courts and by the parents as the rule book for your custody situation. It outlines the times that the children are with each parent, the holidays that the children spend with each parent, and any other information that relates to child custody. If you are creating a parenting plan, here is a template that you can follow to make sure you have everything you need.
The first thing to think about is the custody and visitation schedule. This is the calendar that you will follow that outlines when the children are with each parent. Start your schedule with a basic, rotating cycle of custody. Add the holidays to the calendar and put in any vacation time. You also need to think about how you want to handle summer and winter breaks (if your child is at school). The basic schedule may change during those times to even out the time that the children spend with both parents.
Along with the custody schedule, you need to think about the particulars about how the drop offs and pick ups will go. This is important to include in your parenting plan so that each parent and the children know exactly what to expect. If you and the other parent get along reasonably well, you may have the parent who is taking the kids come and pick them up–or the other parent drop them off. Or, perhaps it would be easier for you to pick a location in the middle and have both parents meet there. Figure out what works for you.
Also, come up with the terms for changing the schedule. Are you and the other parent more flexible with the schedule? If there are changes do you trust each other enough to let the other parent know? Can you arrange for different visitation if something comes up? Decide together how rigid the arrangement is. It may be better for you to have a general guideline for visitation or it may be necessary to have the exact times and places set in stone.
The last part of the template is to consider any provisions you want to include. You can have provisions that state each parent will have the kids wear seat belts in the care. Or, perhaps you want to include a provision that states the parent has to notify the other parent if they want to sign the children up for extra-curricular activities that will infringe on the parent’s visitation time. Think through some rules for your custody situation and include those in your plan.
If you and the child’s other parent get along, you will be able to discuss and make these decisions together. If you don’t get along, you will need to have this plan prepared for court. Either way, following this parenting plan template should get you started on your custody agreement.
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