Prepare a custody and parenting time agreement

If you and your child’s other parent agree about child custody and parenting time of your children, you can have your agreement made a court order without having to go in front of a judge. 

Before you start

Before making an agreement, read about how child custody and parenting time works. You'll want to know things like: 

  • What are the types of custody orders  

  • What are the types of parenting time or visitation plans  

  • What the judge looks at if you don’t agree to a parenting plan  

It may also help you to try to come up with an agreement about child support at the same time, but you don’t have to. Your court’s Family Law Facilitator can explain child support and may be able to help you write up an agreement for both child support and custody and parenting time. 

How to write up a custody and parenting time agreement

  • Decide on custody and parenting time

    illustration of the concept of dialogue between two parties in a case to come to an agreement
    1. Agree who will have legal custody or if you will share it (called “joint”) 

    Legal custody deals with who makes important decisions in your children’s lives, like education, health care, and more. 

    1. Agree who will have physical custody or if you will share it   

    Physical custody is who your children live with most of the time. If you share your children close to equal time, it can also be joint.  

    1. Agree how you will share parenting time 

    Parenting time, also called visitation, is the plan for how you will each share time with your children, including school days, weekends, holidays, vacations, and special occasions. 

  • Write up the agreement

    Illustration of someone typing a declaration at home on their computer

    You can use Stipulation and Order for Custody and/or Visitation of Children (form FL-355) as your coversheet for your agreement. You both have to sign this coversheet. 

    Then, you can use Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Order Attachment (form FL-341) to mark up the details about your children, how you want custody to be, and details on your parenting time.  

    You can also write up your parenting plan on your own paper, and attach it to the coversheet, Form FL-355. 

    There are other forms that may be helpful, like: 

    Your court’s Self-Help Center or Family Law Facilitator may be able to help you write up your agreement. 

  • Take your agreement to get the judge’s signature and pay fee

    members fo the public waiting in line to talk to the clerk

    Unlike other forms, agreements don’t get filed right away. A judge has to sign the agreement before it can be filed. You will generally need to pay a filing fee.

    Ask a clerk or the Family Law Facilitator: 

    • Where to bring the agreement to get a judge’s signature

    • How you get the signed agreement back

    • What your fee will be

    It may take several days to get the signed copy back. You may be able to pick it up in person or have the court mail it to you.

    There is usually a fee to file an agreement. The fee is generally $20. If one of you hasn't paid their first filing fee ($435-450) that person may also need to pay this fee. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.

  • Pick up agreement and give a copy to your children’s other parent

    illustration of hading papers to another person
    • Check it has a judge’s signature and stamp in the top corner saying it was filed.  

    • Give your children’s other parent their copy of the signed and filed agreement for their records. 

Once your agreement is filed, it’s a court order. This means you and your children’s other parent must follow the order.  

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