When you get a divorce, settling issues regarding children can be one of the hardest things to do. While the children’s best interests should always be a priority, there are times when other things get in the way. This is why divorced parents are urged to create a parenting plan and to stick to it.
Let’s take a closer look at what a parenting plan entails and some tips for creating one in California.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a document that details each parent’s responsibilities and rights after a divorce or separation. A parenting plan can also be referred to as a custody or visitation plan. It must be in writing, signed by both parents, and approved by a judge to be valid.
How to create a parenting plan in California
When you’re creating a parenting plan several factors need to be considered. This includes:
As you craft your parenting plan, it must address who is going to have legal and physical custody and whether that is going to be shared. When a parent has legal custody they make decisions about the child’s health, education, and general welfare. A parent can have sole legal custody or joint legal custody.
Physical custody refers to which parent cares for and takes for the child. If a parent has sole physical custody, the child lives only with them and the other parent has visitation. When there is joint physical custody, the child will live with each parent for significant periods.
Your parenting plan should clearly state this so that visitation can be decided appropriately and each parent knows who has the right to make decisions about the child’s well-being.
Think About the Best Interests of the Child
This should always be the priority in a parenting plan. When thinking about custody or any other decisions about children, parents should always think about what is in the child’s best interest. Who would be the best parent to live with and who is more responsible to make decisions? Each parent should think about these types of questions as they work together to draft a parenting plan. Each parent’s wishes and desires should not cloud the best interests of the child.
Parents need to decide whose plan will cover the children. Sometimes one parent will cover the child while in other cases, the child will be under both parents’ plans.
Parents must agree on how long each will wait to hear from the other when it comes to making decisions about their child. This can refer to extracurricular activities or any other times when parents need to talk to one another. There needs to be a timeline set that will allow one parent to act alone when the other parent doesn’t respond in time.
As you and your ex work on your parenting plan, try to be consistent with your schedule. This helps your child know what to expect and where he or she is going. A consistent schedule also helps parents to know what they need to do and when. While emergencies come up, having a consistent schedule to work off of is beneficial for everyone.
Be Sensitive to Your Child’s Needs
A parenting plan is going to look different depending on your child’s age. As children get older they will express who they want to live with and what they want to do. Take this into consideration as you develop your parenting plan. Doing so will help your child adjust better to their new situation.
Without a parenting plan in place that is in writing and signed by a judge, the rules of co-parenting can get blurred and ultimately the child suffers. You and your ex want to develop a parenting plan so that everyone is on the same page and your child can live a happy and healthy life with both parents.