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How to File a Parenting Plan With the Court

A parenting plan is the parent’s written agreement about how much time the child will spend with each parent. Here is how to file your plan with the courts.
(1 min 49 sec read)

Dave Chartier
A single co-parenting dad, a freelance writer and former syndicated dad blogger with work published in USA Today, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

A parenting plan, also called a “custody and visitation agreement” or a “time-share plan,” is the parent’s written agreement about how much time the child will spend with each parent, and how the parents will make decisions about the child’s welfare and education.

Keep in mind when choosing a plan that it needs to consider the emotional and psychological needs for children of different ages.

“Children are very different and have different needs, depending on their relationship with their parents, their maturity level, and their extended family, friends, community, cultural background, and other factors. So, there is no “one size fits all” parenting plan for children of different ages.”1

A parenting plan is filed as part of the initial dissolution of marriage. But as we know things change and additional ones may be filed due to any number of reasons (ex. change of jobs, commuting time, work travel, health issues, etc). When considering a plan that works best for you and your children you need to do what’s best for your child based on their age and development.

If your lawyer hasn’t already informed you, we will break down the basic steps and you can search online whether your local court supports eFiling or plan on going to your local court to submit the paperwork.

  1. Fill out your court forms. …
  2. Have your forms reviewed, ideally from a court clerk…
  3. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms. …
  4. File your forms with the court clerk. …
  5. Get your court date or mediation date. …
  6. Serve your papers on the other parent. …
  7. File your Proof of Service.

If you are filing a change to your existing co-parenting plan, you have to show that there has been a “change in circumstances” since the final custody order was made. This means that there has been a significant change that requires a revised plan and that it is in the best interest of the children. Or if you are currently using the coParenter app, simply connect with a coParenter Professional to review your proposed plan and talk through the changes.


Needs of Children of Different Ages | California Courts


Model parenting time plans (PDF)

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