Creating a 2018 Child Custody Plan

As 2017 winds down, people are looking back at their past year. Was it a good one? What could improve next year?

For parents sharing joint custody, now is a good time to reflect on how the past year went for them and their children to ask the same questions: What is working? What isn’t? Was time divided equitably?

Before making New Year’s resolutions, start to think about how you can resolve to have a smooth custody plan in 2017.

Sharing the holidays

Everyone is in the midst of the winter holiday season, and it’s an opportune time to think about how the holidays impacted the custody plan in 2017. Did each parent feel they got a fair amount of time with their children throughout the annual holidays? If not, this is a good time to discuss creating a holiday schedule for 2018 with your ex-spouse.

Extended family time

How did the custody plan affect extended family members, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins? Were the children spending more time with one parent’s family than another’s? Grandparents have visitation rights in Tennessee, and it’s a good time to consider whether or not the grandparents were able to fully exercise those rights last year.


If one parent wanted to take a vacation with the children last year without an advanced plan, it may have ruffled some feathers. Take some time to consider what you would like your vacations to be in 2018 and how long they would be. Discuss these wishes with your ex-spouse and develop an equitable vacation schedule for each parent.

Involvement in extra-curricular activities

Noncustodial parents have the right to receive at least 48 hours notice of all extra-curricular activities. Were those rights met in 2017? If not, how can both parents work together on a system that allows for that communication?

Impact on the children

Most importantly, how do your children feel the past year went? What worked for them? What didn’t? As much as your schedule needs to be made in cooperation with your ex-spouse, the input of your children is probably more important than how the schedule impacts either of you.

Taking the opportunity to reflect on your child custody plan as you reflect on your entire 2017 can give you and your ex-spouse an opportunity to collaborate on a more defined schedule that fits the needs of their children and themselves.