Parenting plans are written agreements that parents in California who are going through a divorce or are no longer in a relationship with one another will execute with regards to the care and custody of their child. Oftentimes, parents are able to establish a parenting plan out of court. Once the parenting plan is complete, it can be submitted for court approval, making it legally binding.
A parenting plan should address two main issues: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody entails which parent will have care of the child and when. Parents will need to determine who the child will live with on weekdays and weekends. They will need to decide who the child will spend holidays and vacations from school with. They will need to decide which parent will be in charge of which activities the child has on certain days like, for example, extracurricular activities, but also daily responsibilities such as homework. Parents will also need to decide how child custody exchanges will work, and who will pay for transportation expenses.
A parenting plan should also address legal custody issues. Legal custody entails which parent, or both, will make key decisions on how to raise their child. Parents will need to agree on who will make decisions regarding the child's education, religion, medical care, emergency care and more. If parents are to share the responsibility of making these decisions, the parenting plan must be very clear and detailed on how they will do so.
Executing a parenting plan often takes some give and take from both parties. However, all parenting plans should ultimately serve the best interests of the child. By prioritizing the child's needs and interests first, parents can negotiate a parenting plan that is satisfactory to all.