What Is Required for a California Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is necessary to provide a written agreement between the separated, divorced, or never-married parents of minor children. Certain information must be laid out in such a plan so that both parties have a stable agreement that can be relied upon in terms of sharing time with their children and making decisions about their children’s welfare.

Child custody in California is broken down into two aspects, known as legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make major life decisions about a child, such as decisions concerning education, health, religious upbringing, and the child’s overall wellbeing. Physical custody refers to with whom the child will live. When these two factors are held jointly by both parents, a time-share schedule must be worked out along with other arrangements so that the child will be able to maintain a stable and continuing relationship with both parents. Maintaining such a relationship is generally considered to be in a child’s best interests unless some negative factor (such as previous domestic violence or substance abuse) would preclude a parental relationship.

Benefits of a Parenting Plan

With a parenting plan in place, you as a parent and your children will have predictability. This will mean less room for conflict between you and the other parent over all matters concerning the children. It will also provide contingencies for when the unexpected happens, such as a child becoming ill at school, becoming injured, or when a parent cannot make a scheduled visitation happen due to a work or other conflict. While predictability is the hallmark of a parenting plan, providing stability for the child, flexibility must also be considered due to the randomness of life and matters that go beyond your control.

How a Parenting Plan Becomes Effective

Once you and the other parent have worked out all of the specifics of your parenting plan, you will submit it to the court. Both you and the other parent must sign it. It must also be approved and signed by the judge after which it is filed with the court. It then becomes a court order that is legally enforceable.

What Should Be in a Parenting Plan?

In regard to a timesharing plan, you should include the following:

  • A schedule as to with whom the child will reside during the week. This will include a plan for a child who is not yet in school as well as children who attend school, including who will ferry them back and forth to school or daycare.
  • A schedule for weekends, holidays, birthdays, sports activities, other extra-curricular activities, and anything else the child may be engaged in.
  • A schedule for summer vacations when a child is not in school.
  • A plan for who will take the child back and forth between scheduled timesharing with each parent,
  • A plan for who will take care of a child when sick or injured.
  • A plan for who will be responsible for taking the child to medical or dental appointments.

The plan should also take into account how major decisions will be handled between the parents concerning where the child will go to school or daycare, how religious upbringing will be handled, how emergency care will be handled, and for the handling of any other issue concerning the child’s welfare.

The more detailed your plan, the better. The details will eliminate guesswork and uncertainty for a parent facing a sudden emergency or conflict. This will require that both parents have full information from the other, including home and work phones, email addresses, and other contact information. Both parents should be able to reach their children at any time and should have full information about them should such information be necessary to deal with any situation.

Get Help from an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Orange County

As you can see, a parenting plan needs to be comprehensive and to cover as many possible scenarios that could arise as possible. Ensuring that your parenting plan provides all the necessary specifics can be accomplished with help from Burch Shepard Family Law Group in Newport Beach. Our legal team understands what needs to be included in such a plan and can help you resolve this important matter with the other parent through skilled negotiation or other methods. Let us use our exceptional experience to help you today.

Reach out to our firm at (949) 565-4158 or through our online request form today.