When you have children and don’t reside with the other parent, developing a successful parenting plan is of vital importance. Your parenting plan will provide a schedule for when your children will be with each parent and describe how you and the other parent will make decisions about the health, education and well-being of your children. Parenting plans should always be in the best interest of the children. In addition, parenting plans should ensure the child’s right to continuous and frequent contact with both parents. Ideally, the parenting plan will be developed collaboratively and mutually agreed upon by both parents. Sometimes reaching an agreement can be challenging and the court must make decisions about what is in the best interest of your children. Either way, a written plan can assist you and your children by providing for stability and predictability, thereby reducing conflicts in the future. Here are some things you should know as you and the other parent develop your parenting plan.
Custody is defined in Section 3000-3007 of the California Family Code.
o Joint Physical Custody “means that each of the parents shall have significant periods of physical custody. Joint physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way so as to assure a child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, subject to Sections 3011 and 3020." (Section 3004)
o Sole Physical Custody “means that a child shall reside with and be under the supervision of one parent, subject to the power of the court to order visitation." (Section 3007)
o Joint Legal Custody “means that both parents shall share the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child." (Section 3003)
o Sole Legal Custody “means that one parent shall have the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child." (Section 3006)
In thinking about the best interest of your children you and the other parent should consider:
Should the court need to become involved, California Family Code Section 3011 provides that the court will consider the following, and any other factors it deems relevant:
o Any child to whom he or she is related by blood or affinity or with whom he or she has had a caretaking relationship, no matter how temporary.
o The other parent.
o A parent, current spouse, or cohabitant, of the parent or person seeking custody, or a person with whom the parent or person seeking custody has a dating or engagement relationship.
Holiday schedules should include days which are legally recognized as holidays by the State of California, along with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and/or other days which are significant to a given family. Holidays are special for parents, for children and for extended family. It’s important that children be able to experience holidays with both parents. Clearly written Holiday Schedules can help ensure that holidays are an enjoyable low-conflict time for everyone.
There are many ways to develop a holiday schedule which works for your family.