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Shared Parenting Plans – What Parents Need to Know

Posted September 8, 2023
12:25 pm

By Heavenly Aguilar, 2023 Summer Associate with Legal Aid's Family Practice Group

A shared parenting plan is an agreement between two parents as to their legal rights and responsibilities for their child.

A shared parenting plan is commonly negotiated during a divorce or when a juvenile court determines who the parents are. If the parents are unable to negotiate their own plan, then the judge decides the rights and responsibilities of both parents. When a shared parenting plan is signed by a judge, it becomes an order of the court. If a parent violates the shared parenting plan, they may be in contempt of court because they did not follow a court order.

Since a shared parenting plan will create rights and responsibilities for both parents, the parties should work hard to ensure the shared parenting plan precisely reflects the desires of the parents. Both parents should participate in making the plan, so it is as fair as possible. Some terms to include in the plan are living arrangements, child support, providing for the child’s medical and dental care, school placement, and who the child will be with during holidays and birthdays.

As circumstances change (e.g., one parent moves), and as the child grows older, the shared parenting plan may need to be modified or terminated. A shared parenting plan can be modified when one or both parents show that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child, the child’s residential parent, or either of the parents involved in the shared parenting plan. The modification must be necessary to serve the best interests of the child. A modification changes certain terms within the parenting plan but does not get rid of the plan.

If a parent wants to terminate a shared parenting plan, the parent must ask the court for sole custody of the child. Courts generally want both parents engaged in their child’s care. A request for sole custody and to terminate a shared parenting plan must be in the best interest of the child.

If you are considering modifying or terminating your shared parenting plan, you may find helpful information online. Look for resources about parenting time in the “Family” section of You can also visit a Legal Aid Brief Advice Clinic. Find clinic dates and locations online:

This article was published in Legal Aid's newsletter, "The Alert" Volume 39, Issue 2, in September 2023. See full issue at this link: “The Alert”- Volume 39, Issue 2 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

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