What Information Should Be Included in a Parenting Plan?
In the context of a California divorce, parenting plans deal with how parents will care for their children after separation.
They are often called a “child custody and visitation agreement,” a written document about when the children will spend with each parent and how parents will make important decisions about their education, health, etc.
The most effective plans are designed to meet particular needs of a parent's priorities, typically their kid's best interest, as defined under California Family Code 3020. Under state law, requirements involve detailed arrangements on parenting time, visitation, and making decisions.
Parenting plans often help reduce some stress that is common in most divorces. They also help parents reduce the number of disagreements during the divorce proceedings. In other words, a good parenting plan typically serves the parents' best interest, especially their children.
Once you seek a divorce, you must understand and accept that it's a series of negotiations and compromises on several vital issues. You and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse must decide who will have primary child custody and how much time they will spend with each of you.
It's rarely easy, and child custody and visitation disagreements are frequently the top reason for bitter conflicts and family tension. However, during the dissolving a marriage process, which can take some time, you will need to find a way to create a parenting schedule that works for your family, especially teenagers. Let's review this topic in greater detail below.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a written document that details the parenting schedule agreed upon by both parents.
In addition, they should include the standard parenting schedule that addresses where the kids will primarily live, take them to school, etc.
Then, on weekends, which parent will be responsible for picking them up and dropping them off for visitation with the other parent. Of course, they should include all other activities in their child's life.
There are many essential details to include in your California parenting plan. As noted, divorce is rarely easy, even when spouses remain on friendly terms. Deciding on child custody issues is one of the most challenging agreements they will need to make with their spouse.
Once an initial verbal agreement has been reached on primary and shared custody, you will need to create a written document for approval by a family law court.
Even when divorcing parents maintain open communication, having a parenting plan in place will let everyone know how to proceed when custody and visitation issues arise. So, what details should be included in a parenting plan? Some of the most common issues are:
- Legal and physical custody decisions;
- Both parent's weekday and weekend schedules;
- Drop-off locations;
- Church and religious issues;
- Visitation with other family members;
- School and homework schedule;
- Birthdays and holiday schedule;
- School break schedule;
- Extracurricular activities;
- Vacation schedule;
- Transportation issues;
- Childcare and babysitter details;
- Healthcare decisions;
- Overnight stays and curfews;
- Dating rules for teenagers;
- Discipline and conflicts;
- Post-judgment custody modifications.
California Parenting plans should be created as quickly as possible to allow their children to adjust to their new lifestyle faster. You can modify a child visitation schedule. The best custody arrangement for an infant should always serve their best interest.
What Are the Best Parenting Plans?
When kids are younger, it's more difficult to spend significant time away from the primary custodial parent. Thus, a common approach is to spend the weekdays at their usual home and weekends with their other parent.
When they get a little older, alternating weeks with each parent is often a better option as it causes the least disruption in their lives.
However, the best parenting plans are designed to fit the circumstances of each parent and their children, depending on their age. Every case is unique, and there are no cookie-cutter approaches or one-size-fits-all.
In other words, a good parenting plan for the parents is often good for the kids too, but there are some common tips for a successful parenting plan:
- Frequent visitation time with the non-custodial parent;
- Infrequent exchanges create less disruption in a kid's life;
- Flexibility and consistency are essential factors.
Your children need to spend significant time with each parent, but the fewer times they are physically exchanged between parents, the better. Remember, an exchange is a disruption to their schedule.
Further, the best parenting plans will address crucial issues such as completing homework and transportation matters such as who will drive them to and from school each day.
There are also less obvious issues, such as summer camps or sports tournaments. You should not expect the other parent to be entirely responsible for all their extracurricular activities.
Parenting is one of the most challenging responsibilities you will ever handle, and it typically takes both parents to be successful. Making the other parent handle all the responsibilities is not fair or generally in the child’s best interest. Remember, it's not all about you. Sometimes, a child might refuse visitation with the other parent.
Need Help with a Parenting Plan?
It would be best if you attempted to get together with your spouse to discuss a proposed parenting plan.
It would be wise to write down anything you seek and your decisions with your spouse.
It would be best if you were detailed in your parenting plan to avoid arguments later. You'll need to cover the fine details carefully and ensure that both of you are satisfied with the agreement.
As noted above, you must include flexibility in the plan as circumstances will always change, and you need to recognize that kids' priorities will frequently change. The plan must also include which parent has the primary decision-making authority and create a parenting time calendar.
If you are seeking a divorce in California and need more information on how courts view custody agreements and parenting plan details, contact our experienced Los Angeles family law attorneys for a free case evaluation.
Furman & Zavatsky are in Los Angeles County and provide legal representation across California. You can contact us by phone or fill out the contact form.