The Koblin Family Law Center

Basics of parenting plans for child custody

Parents in California who split up will likely need a parenting plan, also known as custody and visitation agreement. Parenting plans cover important issues involving child custody, such as an agreement when children are with which parent as well as details for how decisions will be made about children's welfare, education and other aspects of their lives. A parenting plan is more likely to be beneficial if it is comprehensive and well thought out.

The ideal parenting plan touches upon all the major areas parents might later fight about, such as who gets the child on holidays, weekends, summers and for special occasions. Although it is impossible to consider every eventuality, a parenting plan should give a child stability and meet the needs of the child, not what is easier for the parents. The plan should be detailed enough to avoid misunderstandings or confusion. Unless one parent is abusive or violent, parenting plans should ensure that children can always speak with both parents by phone and that both parents have access to important information, such as health and school records.

Before a plan is deemed finished, parents should check that it allows for children to get sufficient rest, guidance, protection and adequate health care. A good plan will also allow children to feel loved. Once completed, a parenting plan must be signed by both parents and then a judge in a divorce case.

Divorce offers adults a fresh start, but fighting for child custody and visitation rights could be hard on children. It is important to remember that the court's main consideration in these matters will be the best interests of the children involved.

Source: Judicial Council of California, "Parenting Plans", December 30, 2014

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