When a Sacramento couple decides to end their marriage, providing for the welfare of their children is one of the most important issues they will face. Unfortunately, divorcing spouses often do not view the issues involved in their children’s welfare in the same light. A jointly drafted parenting plan can be a very helpful tool in resolving disputes about child custody and visitation.
A parenting plan is a written agreement between the spouses that is negotiated and agreed upon without the direct involvement of the court. Many parenting plans are written during the course of a divorce mediation. As the parties negotiate their parenting plan, they should keep in mind that the court will review the plan before it is signed and becomes an official court order.
The parenting plan should provide for both physical and legal custody of the children. The former term is self-explanatory; legal custody is the right to make decisions about the child’s schooling, medical care, and the like. The parents may agree to joint physical custody in which the children spend significant amounts of time with each parent. Any custody arrangement must address the convenience of each child and not focus solely on the parents’ personal concerns. The purpose of the parenting plan is to address the children’s needs, not each parent’s convenience.
A parenting plan should be as specific as possible but should also provide flexibility in the event that circumstances change. If the children are very young at the time of the divorce, the plan will govern many years of their lives. The needs of the children are likely to change over time, and the parenting plan should anticipate these changes. The assistance of an experienced family law attorney can contribute to the workability of a parenting plan.
Source: courts.ca.gov, “Parenting Plans,” accessed on May 7, 2018