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How Do I Know If My Parenting Plan Is in Effect?

If you and your spouse are going through a divorce or separation, the family court in your state may require you to submit a parenting plan before your divorce can be finalized.

If you are going through a divorce or separation, the family court in your state may require you and your future co-parent to submit a parenting plan before your divorce can be finalized. It is pertinent to know the components of a parenting plan and how to manage one throughout your co-parenting journey.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan, also referred to as a parenting agreement, is a legal document that states how you and your co-parent will share custody, manage visitations, and provide for the physical and emotional care of your children.

Depending on the state you file in, there are specific components to a parenting plan that may be required by law. Generally, these main things need to be taken into consideration in your plan:

  • Custody details
  • Time schedules
  • Drop-off and pick-up schedules
  • Financial responsibilities
  • Medical care
  • Education preferences
  • Communication methods
  • Travel and relocation plans
  • Plans for future amendments

To learn more about what should be addressed in your parenting plan, check out this article.

Once you and your spouse agree on a parenting plan, you will both sign the plan in front of a notary and submit it to the court. There may or may not be a physical hearing in front of a judge to review your parenting plan. If a judge feels like you and your spouse have made a parenting plan that focuses on the best interests of your children and has adequate provisions for adjustments, he or she will likely approve it.

With TalkingParents, you can track the different facets of your parenting plan and navigate your co-parenting journey in one service. You can use the Shared Calendar feature to keep track of drop-off and pick-up days. The Info Library enables you to store and share important details, like your child’s allergies or clothing sizes. Accountable Calling and Secure Messaging allow you to communicate with your co-parent keeping all communications unchangeable and documented.

Your parenting plan is officially in effect once the judge signs it.

When does my parenting plan go into effect?

Your parenting plan is officially in effect and legally binding once a judge signs it. That may or may not happen at the hearing. The court will usually process the documentation, obtain the judge’s signature, and file the decree with the Clerk of Courts. The Clerk of Courts will notify you by mail when your decree is entered on the docket.

Once a judge signs your parenting agreement, it is a legally binding document. If you violate the agreement, you may face fines or other penalties. To keep track of your agreement’s requirements, it’s best to store a copy of your record in a secure location. The TalkingParents Vault File Storage allows you to privately and securely store digital files. You can even share files directly from your Vault with your lawyer or other third parties; files can be made accessible through an email link for 24 hours, 48 hours, or indefinitely.


How can I modify my parenting plan?

If circumstances for you, your child, or co-parent change, you may need to revisit your parenting plan. Some examples of substantial changes that would warrant a modification to your parenting plan include:

  • A long-distance move
  • A long-term change to a co-parent’s work schedule
  • A change in a parent’s ability to care for your child
  • A shift in your child’s needs due to health, age, etc.
  • An issue with a parent’s ability to adhere to the parenting time schedule
  • Any record of the court or police enforcing the agreement

Any modifications must be presented in court with supporting evidence. Just as your parenting plan was signed by a judge, any modifications to the plan need to be accepted by a judge. This may mean you and your ex may need to attend hearings as part of the review and implementation process. Depending on what state you're in, your children’s preferences and input may be taken into consideration if the court deems them old enough.

If you have questions about creating, enforcing, or making changes to a parenting plan, reach out to the Clerk of Courts in your county or consult a family law attorney in your area.

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