Law Office of Stephen W. Penn and Associates

Elements to consider when developing your parenting plan

Divorce proves confusing and heartbreaking for all parties, especially children. Depending on their age, children react to divorce in various emotional ways. To continue to provide an uninterrupted life for your child, it may prove wise to agree on a parenting plan.

California parenting plans offer an opportunity for both parents to agree on elements of their child’s life. Without this custody agreement, parents may not offer similar lifestyles and leave children disorganized and attempting to choose sides. To increase the adaptability of your child during your separation, collaborate to create a fair parenting plan.

Parenting plan elements

When drafting a parenting plan, parents need to make decisions regarding nearly every aspect of their child’s life. You will need to decide:

  • A schedule for when children will be with you or your ex-spouse
  • How you and your ex-spouse will make decisions about health, education and welfare

A necessary element to drafting a fair parenting plan proves to be flexibility. For many separating adults, agreeing to share their children for an equal amount of time seems unnecessary. Yet for children to benefit from a fair joint custody arrangement, children should spend equal amounts of time with each parent.

Remember to keep the best interest of your child in mind, and that may include spending more time with your ex-spouse.

Consider your individual child

Change proves extremely hard for some children, and other children adapt to a new normal quickly. Courts do not provide general joint custody parenting plans for each family because families operate very differently. More importantly, though, children react differently.

When drafting a plan for your specific child or children, consider:

  • Age: Depending on age, children may be unable to comprehend divorce, so certain plan elements may need to change to adapt to your child’s maturity.
  • Personality: If your child demonstrates a reserved personality, he or she may react differently to plans involving quick stints with each parent versus 3-night rotations.
  • Abilities: Children need emotional and physical stability, but if divorce proves healthier, children’s lives must be rearranged. Draft a plan that ensures that your child has the best opportunity to succeed with each parent.

Creating a parenting plan involves multiple elements for successful initiation, so:

  • Be consistent with times and scheduling, so that you give your child the best opportunity to understand where and at what time he or she visits your ex-spouse.
  • Do not be late for picking up or dropping off, as this constitutes violation of the parenting plan and may introduce animosity between you and your ex-spouse.
  • Give your plan detail, so that gray areas do not allow for bending the rules of the plan.
  • Remember to remind your ex-spouse of vacations, and decide holidays when the plan is drafted.

A parenting plan provides collaboration in a tense time. You and your former partner have the unique opportunity to sit down, discuss and draft a plan that suits you. While the plan is necessary for individual parents, the goal of the plan is to provide a safe, consistent routine for your child in a time of change.

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  • State Bar Of California | California Board Of Legal Specialization | Stephen W. Penn
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