If you and your child’s other parent are no longer romantically linked, you’ll need to start thinking about drafting a parenting plan as part of your broader child custody arrangement. In California, family law courts generally require that a legally-enforceable parenting plan be put into place when both of a child’s parents are going to remain actively involved in that child’s life after a divorce or romantic split.
If you and your child’s other parent can mutually agree on the terms of your parenting plan arrangement, you’ll be able to dictate when your child will reside with each of you, how holidays and special occasions will be divided, how your general routine will be structured, etc. If, however, you and your child’s other parent require the court to settle any fundamental differences you may have, a judge will ultimately decide the terms of your parenting plan and your overall child custody arrangement. This isn’t an ideal situation and should be avoided when possible and appropriate.
What makes a parenting plan workable?
A consistent routine and clear expectations allow co-parents to plan ahead, to live their lives with less stress, and to facilitate a healthy environment for their children. However, it’s important to integrate a reasonable amount of flexibility into the terms of your plan. After all, your child’s needs will evolve as they grow and the ordinary bumps on the road of life will mean that every moment of your co-parenting journey can’t be fully anticipated. Balancing flexibility and clear expectations will help to ensure that your parenting plan is truly manageable.
By carefully considering your child’s unique needs, the ways in which your family functions most effectively, and how to strike a balance between flexibility and clear expectations, you’ll be better positioned to craft a parenting plan that works for everyone involved.