Make your Free
Parenting Plan

  • Answer simple questions to create your document
  • Sign & share your document online
  • Save progress and finish on any device; download & print at home

How it works

  • Build your
    document
  • Save, print
    & share
  • Sign it &
    Make it legal
Sample Parenting Plan Form Template
How it Works
Build your Document
Save, Print & Share
Sign it & make it legal

Parenting Plan Basics

The topic of children during a divorce or legal separation can be a complicated one. A Parenting Plan lays out the agreement between two parents about physical and legal custody, child support, a visitation schedule, and health insurance, among other issues.

Use the Parenting Plan document if:

  • You and your spouse are divorcing and need a plan for each other's involvement in the child's life after the divorce.
  • You and your spouse are filing for a legal separation and want to determine child custody and support.
  • You have a child with someone to whom you are not married and want to enforce a plan for parenting time and visitation.

Parents of minor children can use the Parenting Plan to put their agreement about their children in writing. The Parenting Plan may be filed with a court if required as part of a child custody agreement, or may be an informal agreement between parents. A parenting plan is one part of divorce, if you’d like more information be sure to read our post outlining which legal documents you need when getting a divorce.

Other names for this document: Custody Agreement, Parenting Plan Form

How Is Custody Decided?
Child custody is primarily decided in one of two ways: first, the parent can come to a mutual agreement on how custody is to be divided and, second, it can be decided by a judge. Which process you choose to go through will depend heavily on the tenor of the divorce and whether or not there are any substantive disagreements—if both parties can be civil, it can save a lot of stress by not having to argue in court.

What Types of Custody Are There?
There are several types of custody that exist in the law:

• Legal custody: this type of custody tasks a parent or guardian with the responsibility to make decisions on behalf of the child. This includes medical decisions, religious, and those concerning the child's education.

• Physical custody: physical custody grants an individual the right to have the child live with them. This can range from sole custody, in which the child lives with the guardian exclusively, to joint custody in which the child lives with each parent on a split basis.

Legal and physical custody also come in sole and joint varieties. As the names suggest, sole custody grants those rights to a single individual whereas joint custody allows those duties to be split between parents and guardians. In addition, joint custody doesn't necessitate a completely even split&emdash;only an equal right. While both parents may want to see their kids, if one parent consistently travels on business it may be that their custody time comes on the weekend. How these responsibilities are divided can be outlined in a parenting plan.

Finally, even if one parent does not have custody, they my still have visitation rights. In such instances a child visitation letter may be helpful.

Will My Child Be Covered By Medical Insurance After Divorce?
Typically, children are allowed to remain on employer health care plans of their parents. This can be limited to a single plan or, if both parents have coverage, children are often eligible to remain on both plans. The eligibility will depend on your individual plans, so be sure to check the details of your policy.

How Is Child Support Calculated?
The amount of child support awarded is calculated in accordance to specific state law and ultimately decided by a judge. Most states use the "income shares model" which is based on the proportional income of the custodial parent to the non-custodial parent. In this model, a child is pre-assumed to need a certain amount of money to be raised, that monthly amount is divided based on the proportional earning power of each parent. For example, a custodial parent earns $2000 a month while the non-custodial parent earns $4000; if the child needs $1500 a month $1000 (two-thirds) will be paid by the non-custodial parent as they account for two-thirds of the total income of $6000.

A minority of states decide child support by a percentage of a guardian's income. Under this system child support is calculated simply as a flat percent of the non-custodial parent's income; this amount may be a set flat percentage or it may vary as the individual's income fluctuates.

Even with all these formulas, it's important to remember that a judge will have the final say. With that in mind, the ultimate results of calculating child support will likely depend on the unique circumstances of each individual's divorce and custody case.

What Do I Need To Know Before Creating a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a broad and detailed document that must be signed by both parents; therefore, to create a plan that can ultimately be used you'll likely need to have discussed the elements with your attorney or former spouse. You'll want to know how you'll handle the following topics contained in a parenting plan:

• Custody and visitation: who will receive custody of the child, or will both parent share joint custody? This is a critical aspect of a parenting agreement and one that should be tackled early and definitively.

• Holiday visitation: custody goes beyond the everyday, it's helpful to work out who will have the kids during major holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas as well as other major milestones like birthdays.

• Transportation for your child: aside from simply getting your child to school you'll want to specify how they get between you and the other parent if you're sharing custody. Deciding this beforehand can help avoid situations where one parent feels that they're always playing taxi.

• Childcare: what happens when your child needs to attend childcare or daycare? Be sure to know how costs will be covered and who will be picking up and dropping off your child.

• Medical decisions and insurance: know how your child will be covered after a divorce and moving forward. If one parent can put the child on their employer insurance it may be worth discussing other methods of cost sharing should there be a need.

• College savings: if your child has a college fund you'll need to decide who is watching over it. If you and your former spouse had been contributing to a fund it's worth discussing how that will continue.

• Information sharing: how will you communicate with your ex? With joint custody there will often be situations where both parents will need to come together to decide issues on behalf of their child—deciding a process ahead of time can set expectations and avoid one parent being left out.

That's a lot consider, fortunately, we can help you handle the legalese—giving you time to work things out with your former spouse and your attorney.


Sample Parenting Plan

More than just a template, our step-by-step interview process makes it easy to create a Parenting Plan.

Save, sign, print, and download your document when you are done.

Get legal advice

From Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorneys.

Characters remaining: 600

Parenting Plan Basics

Parents of minor children can use the Parenting Plan to put their agreement about their children in writing. The Parenting Plan may be filed with a court if required as part of a child custody agreement, or may be an informal agreement between parents. A parenting plan is one part of divorce, if you’d like more information be sure to read our post outlining which legal documents you need when getting a divorce.

Other names for this document: Custody Agreement, Parenting Plan Form

How Is Custody Decided?
Child custody is primarily decided in one of two ways: first, the parent can come to a mutual agreement on how custody is to be divided and, second, it can be decided by a judge. Which process you choose to go through will depend heavily on the tenor of the divorce and whether or not there are any substantive disagreements—if both parties can be civil, it can save a lot of stress by not having to argue in court.

What Types of Custody Are There?
There are several types of custody that exist in the law:

• Legal custody: this type of custody tasks a parent or guardian with the responsibility to make decisions on behalf of the child. This includes medical decisions, religious, and those concerning the child's education.

• Physical custody: physical custody grants an individual the right to have the child live with them. This can range from sole custody, in which the child lives with the guardian exclusively, to joint custody in which the child lives with each parent on a split basis.

Legal and physical custody also come in sole and joint varieties. As the names suggest, sole custody grants those rights to a single individual whereas joint custody allows those duties to be split between parents and guardians. In addition, joint custody doesn't necessitate a completely even split&emdash;only an equal right. While both parents may want to see their kids, if one parent consistently travels on business it may be that their custody time comes on the weekend. How these responsibilities are divided can be outlined in a parenting plan.

Finally, even if one parent does not have custody, they my still have visitation rights. In such instances a child visitation letter may be helpful.

Will My Child Be Covered By Medical Insurance After Divorce?
Typically, children are allowed to remain on employer health care plans of their parents. This can be limited to a single plan or, if both parents have coverage, children are often eligible to remain on both plans. The eligibility will depend on your individual plans, so be sure to check the details of your policy.

How Is Child Support Calculated?
The amount of child support awarded is calculated in accordance to specific state law and ultimately decided by a judge. Most states use the "income shares model" which is based on the proportional income of the custodial parent to the non-custodial parent. In this model, a child is pre-assumed to need a certain amount of money to be raised, that monthly amount is divided based on the proportional earning power of each parent. For example, a custodial parent earns $2000 a month while the non-custodial parent earns $4000; if the child needs $1500 a month $1000 (two-thirds) will be paid by the non-custodial parent as they account for two-thirds of the total income of $6000.

A minority of states decide child support by a percentage of a guardian's income. Under this system child support is calculated simply as a flat percent of the non-custodial parent's income; this amount may be a set flat percentage or it may vary as the individual's income fluctuates.

Even with all these formulas, it's important to remember that a judge will have the final say. With that in mind, the ultimate results of calculating child support will likely depend on the unique circumstances of each individual's divorce and custody case.

What Do I Need To Know Before Creating a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a broad and detailed document that must be signed by both parents; therefore, to create a plan that can ultimately be used you'll likely need to have discussed the elements with your attorney or former spouse. You'll want to know how you'll handle the following topics contained in a parenting plan:

• Custody and visitation: who will receive custody of the child, or will both parent share joint custody? This is a critical aspect of a parenting agreement and one that should be tackled early and definitively.

• Holiday visitation: custody goes beyond the everyday, it's helpful to work out who will have the kids during major holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas as well as other major milestones like birthdays.

• Transportation for your child: aside from simply getting your child to school you'll want to specify how they get between you and the other parent if you're sharing custody. Deciding this beforehand can help avoid situations where one parent feels that they're always playing taxi.

• Childcare: what happens when your child needs to attend childcare or daycare? Be sure to know how costs will be covered and who will be picking up and dropping off your child.

• Medical decisions and insurance: know how your child will be covered after a divorce and moving forward. If one parent can put the child on their employer insurance it may be worth discussing other methods of cost sharing should there be a need.

• College savings: if your child has a college fund you'll need to decide who is watching over it. If you and your former spouse had been contributing to a fund it's worth discussing how that will continue.

• Information sharing: how will you communicate with your ex? With joint custody there will often be situations where both parents will need to come together to decide issues on behalf of their child—deciding a process ahead of time can set expectations and avoid one parent being left out.

That's a lot consider, fortunately, we can help you handle the legalese—giving you time to work things out with your former spouse and your attorney.

Use the Parenting Plan document if:
  • You and your spouse are divorcing and need a plan for each other's involvement in the child's life after the divorce.
  • You and your spouse are filing for a legal separation and want to determine child custody and support.
  • You have a child with someone to whom you are not married and want to enforce a plan for parenting time and visitation.
Read {{ showMore ? 'Less' : 'More' }}

Ready to create your Free Parenting Plan?

Your document is free within your one week membership trial.

Meet ALL your legal needs with a Rocket Lawyer membership.
Document Defense®
Have an attorney ready to defend your document
Document Review
Review up to 6 documents a year with an attorney
Ask a Lawyer
Get 2 Q&A sessions with an attorney every month
1-on-1 Legal Advice
Enjoy 30-minute consultations  on each new legal matter
Exclusive Discounts
Save on additional legal services from our nationwide network of lawyers
Unlimited Documents
Access hundreds of legal documents, plus extra features like electronic signatures