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Child Custody & Parenting Plans

What Issues Should a Parenting Plan in California Address?

When parents divorce, one thing they must understand is that they must work together to give their child a good life, even though their relationship has ended. This cooperation can begin with a parenting plan. In addition, a custody and visitation agreement contains topics a parenting plan should address.

First, a parenting plan should address physical custody issues. Physical custody refers to where the child resides and when. For example, parents should decide who the child will live with on weekdays and weekends. In addition, parents will also want to decide how they will handle holidays, vacations from school and other special occasions. Children are often involved in activities other than school, for example, soccer games, violin lessons or homework. Parents will need to decide who will oversee which activities. Finally, parents will need to decide how drop-off and pick-up will work when the child is going from one household to the other for parenting time.

A parenting plan should also address legal custody issues. Legal custody refers to who will have the ability to make key life decisions regarding the child. For example, parents may need to determine whether they will share the responsibility of making decisions regarding the child's education, childcare, religious upbringing, medical care, driving (if the child is old enough) and the child's work (again, if the child is old enough).

When parents are able to successfully negotiate a parenting plan, not only may it result in a custody and visitation arrangement that they are both reasonably satisfied with, but it also sets the stage for the cooperation they will have to maintain moving forward. Most importantly, however, is that the child benefits from having the stability and security that a suitable parenting plan brings.