Divorcing parents often find that determining child custody arrangements is the most challenging part of their divorce. California courts encourage parents to create a parenting plan or a written agreement regarding child custody and visitation.
Once you and your ex-spouse agree to a parenting plan, you will present it to the court for final approval. The parenting agreement will become a legally binding court order once it is signed by both parents and the judge and is filed with the court.
What is the purpose of a parenting plan?
The primary purpose of a parenting plan is to specify how the parents will share time with the children (physical custody) and how parents will make decisions relating to the child (legal custody). As you create your plan, you should make your children the primary focus by considering their:
- Health (mental and physical)
- Basic needs (e.g., healthy diet, medical care, stability, guidance)
- Preferences (especially for children 14 and up)
Parenting plans can include and/or address the following:
- School-year schedule
- Vacation/holiday schedule
- Pick-up/drop-off times
- Transportation/transportation costs for visits
- Which parent will make decisions regarding the child’s schooling, medical care, religion, extra-curricular activities, etc.
- How to handle conflict between parents, changes to schedule, etc.
- Parental access to information about child and ability to contact the child
If you and your ex-spouse are not separating on good terms, it is very easy to get into a heated battle over the kids, losing sight of the children’s needs. A family law attorney can help you maintain perspective during this difficult process by ensuring that your parenting plan is created with your children’s best interests in mind.