How Does California’s New Standard Parenting Plan Work?
California courts encourage parents to work together to create a parenting plan that works best for their family. Therefore, the courts do not require parents to use one standard parenting plan. Instead, the courts provide guidance for what must be included in a parenting plan.
Parents have the flexibility to create a parenting plan that meets the needs of their children and the parents. However, a judge must approve the terms of the parenting plan to ensure that they are in the best interest of the children. A Beverly Hills child custody lawyer can help you develop an effective parenting plan.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan details how much time parents spend with their children. The courts also refer to parenting plans as child custody and visitation agreements. The basic concept of a parenting plan is to agree to the terms regarding time-sharing and decision-making for the children.
The California courts suggest that parents keep the following issues in mind when negotiating the terms of a parenting plan:
- Meeting the child’s basic needs, including medical care, rest, healthy diets, guidance, protection, and love
- Providing children with consistent schedules for a sense of security and routine
- Allowing sufficient time with each parent
- The children’s ages, experience, abilities, and personalities
- Parental support systems
- The health, safety, and welfare of the children
- Quality of the parent-child relationships
- The social, emotional, health care, and educational needs of each child
- Parenting abilities
- The level of communication and cooperation between the parents
A good parenting plan contains sufficient details and terms to cover all relevant topics and allow parents to enforce their agreement. A plan also addresses matters related to holidays, summer schedules, vacations, schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and overnight visits.
Parents can make parenting plans general to offer more flexibility. Plans can also have restrictions and precise terms, so there is no doubt or question about what is expected of each parent. The primary purpose of a parenting plan is to provide for the child’s needs while ensuring continued and frequent contact with both parents.
What Should a California Parenting Plan Contain?
When reviewing a parenting plan, the judge will confirm that the plan covers physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody is where the children live and how they split their time between the parents. Legal custody defines which parent makes decisions for the children involving important issues such as education, health care, religion, living arrangements, and extracurricular activities.
Items parents may want to incorporate into a parenting plan include:
- Schedules for physical custody
- Overnight visits
- Holidays, vacations, and school schedules
- Religious practices
- Extracurricular activities
- Healthcare, including doctor’s visits, medical records, vaccinations, etc.
- Screen time and internet usage
- Transportation requirements, including drop-off locations, car seat requirements, and authorized drivers
- Third-party visitation with extended family members, new partners, and other individuals in the parents’ lives
- Cell phone access
- Homework and school expectations
- Rules and stipulations for meeting a parent’s new partner
- Discipline methods
- House rules, including curfews, chores, school work, etc.
- Birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day
- Decisions that require both parents’ input
Parents should expect to modify the terms of the parenting plan as their children mature. It is impossible to predict the future needs of children. Therefore, the parents may need to modify the terms of their parenting agreement to address changes in circumstances.
The parenting plan may also include general agreements between the parents to reduce confrontations and disagreements. For example, the parents may agree they will not use their children to “spy” on each other or relay messages between them.
Parents may also stipulate that they will inform the other parent of all major issues or events in their children’s lives. They will also encourage their children to remain in contact with the other parent and provide the means and opportunity for their children to talk with their other parent when visiting with them.
What Happens if Parents Cannot Negotiate a Parenting Plan in California?
You know yourself and your child better than anyone else. Therefore, you and your ex-partner can develop a parenting plan tailored to your family.
However, if you cannot agree to the terms of a parenting plan, the judge will decide for you. Each parent will present evidence and arguments in court explaining why the judge should agree with them regarding custody terms.
After hearing and reviewing all evidence, the judge will decide what is in the child’s best interest. Judges attempt to address the parents’ concerns. However, the overriding priority is developing a plan in the child’s best interest.
Unfortunately, a judge does not know your family as you do. Judges base their decisions on the court record. Therefore, the parenting plan a judge develops might not be the best for you and your children.
It is always best for everyone when parents can work together to develop a parenting plan.
Contact the family and divorce law firm of Berenji & Associates for help today.
If you’re going through a divorce, you need a strong team on your side fighting for your rights. Call Berenji & Associates today to know how we can assist you.