What Goes Inside a Successful California Parenting Plan?
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At the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb, our Certified Family Law Specialist in San Bernardino understands that when couples with children decide to divorce, their priorities shift, so their focus is on the best interests of their kids.
This is good news because our divorce attorney also knows that is exactly where the court’s focus will be when parents cannot agree on child custody details, and the judge is charged with deciding for them.
To avoid a stranger, albeit a respected family court judge, from making decisions about where your kids will live after the divorce, it behooves most parents to create a parenting plan on their own since they are the ones who actually know what is best for their kids.
That is not to say it is going to be easy. Divorce is never easy. Even for couples who can make all their decisions in mediation, avoiding the courtroom altogether.
However, agreeing on a California parenting plan will allow the children to have structure and support while preventing challenges — or even arguments — when altered schedules, life changes, or even emergencies arise.
To follow are some of the things both parents should consider when constructing a successful parenting plan.
First Up: Schedules, Breaks, Holidays, Special Occasions & Vacations
Whether you have decided to split the children’s time with each parent 50/50, or in another percentage, the first set of visitation — or parenting plan — decision details will surround the kids’ schedules, including weekends, school breaks, holidays, special occasions, and vacations.
Will they alternate weekends at each parent’s home? Will extended school breaks be split in half? Will the parents alternate the holidays with the kids?
Believe it or not, those are the easy questions.
You must also decide where they will spend their birthdays, important functions like extended family’s weddings and other celebrations.
This can be accomplished easier when you consider your kids’ best interests.
For instance, do they have a particularly close relationship with one spouse’s parents? Then they will probably want to attend family reunions and grandparents’ birthdays, or other important third-party celebrations.
These arrangements are unique to each couple, so please be sure to focus on your family’s needs to ensure your kids are getting what they need from their time with both parents.
Next: Transportation, Car Seat Requirements & Neutral Drop-off Locations
Some couples will need a neutral drop-off location, which is typically designed to keep boundaries in place.
They may also need to discuss who can and cannot transport their children, and vehicle requirements, like a car or booster seats, when relevant to their kids’ needs.
This becomes important when carpooling is a standard transportation solution in your home.
For instance, let’s say you take the kids to soccer practice and have always allowed another parent to bring them home, or if you make such an arrangement going forward. The other parent should be made aware of these arrangements, so they know who their kids are with, and when.
If your ex-spouse finds out on their own that an unknown individual has been driving their child around, it could lead to an argument that will affect the kids.
Who’s Going to Watch the Children When You Are Not Available?
It would be ideal that when the kids are in one or the other parent’s care, they are the only ones watching them. But it just isn’t practical.
There are going to be times when your schedule conflicts with your parenting time. It literally happens to every parent. The best plan of attack is to, well, have a plan.
Will the kids go to your parent’s home during that time? Is there a trusted sitter who will be charged with the duties? This is an important decision, and it should be made with each other’s approval, so it does not create tension when the occasion arises.
Finally, Outline Reasonable Personal Rules & Preferences
It is going to be difficult, if not impossible, for both parents to agree to — and practice — the same parenting rules.
Easy decisions may include establishing curfews, screen time restrictions, and how the kids communicate with the other parent while they are away.
Manageable decisions may include expectations regarding school activities, sports, and religion.
Harder conversations may revolve around discipline methods and rules for if and when the parents introduce their kids to new dating partners.
This is not an exhaustive list of factors, as each family’s dynamic is different. However, making some key decisions now may save a lot of snarls later. And that is what kids of divorce really need — coparents.
If you would like to discuss how your divorce may affect your children, including how they split their time, contact our San Bernardino County family law attorney at the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb by calling (909) 889-7111 today to discuss your concerns, so we can create a customized legal approach for your unique needs.