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PARENTING PLANS

Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:14

    During, or even after separation or divorce, parenting can be quite difficult. Not only are you adjusting to the change caused by separation or divorce, but so is your child or children. Change is hard for any age group. But healthy contact with both parents is critical to the psychological health of the children. This must be made a priority, despite the fact there may be hard feelings between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. A written custody and visitation agreement, also known as a parenting plan, can be mutually agreed upon by both parents. There are different parenting plans which can work for each child's age group as well as your particular situation and which should be considered to determine the best interests of your child or children. Parents must consider both physical and legal custody when determining their parenting plan. Here are a few things which should be taken into consideration when developing a parenting plan.


    When creating your parenting plan consider your children's ages and personalities. Will your plan allow the child to feel secure and loved? Does the child have any health or medical disabilities which require special attention? Parents must communicate with each other when developing a plan that will stabilize their children's day-to-day routine and ultimately their future. Children are happier and perform better with routine, as it gives them a sense of security. Because children are naturally stressed and even sometimes emotionally overwhelmed when a divorce or separation occurs, it is vital to maintain a working partnership with the other parent and develop a plan as soon as possible. Children who go by a clear and specific parenting plan usually do much better emotionally than those children who have no schedule to reassure them. A parenting plan gives a child comfort and security in knowing that they have a guaranteed support system and time with both parents. Follow this link to learn more about children and their needs at different ages, when developing a parenting plan http://www.courts.ca.gov/16238.htm.
    When determining what is in the best interest of your child or children. Consider two important factors: time-share and decision making. The time-share is a schedule that the child will follow for spending time with each parent. Do not forget to consider the holidays, and birthdays, and Father's and Mother's day–as well as summer or off-track vacation time. When determining the time-share you are also considering the physical custody of your child or children. When negotiating a time share arrangement, many parents fall into the trap of simply making it a numbers game–who gets the children a higher percentage of the time. Do not fall into that trap. Always go back and consider what is in the best interests of the children. Family courts have mediators who can help you come to an agreement. They are skilled at working out these arrangements. It is a requirement to see the mediator before you can even go before the judge to have her determine a custody dispute.
    The term "Physical Custody" means with whom the child/children live and where they spend their time. When determining who will have physical custody there are two options: "Sole," or "Joint." If both parents agree, or the court orders that one parent will have the child or children living with them the vast majority, or all of the time, then that parent most likely will have sole physical custody. This type is less common than joint physical custody and is typically used when one parent is not really around for some reason, has a drug or alcohol problem, or cannot share in the physical parenting for any other reason. If the parents decided to share the time of their child or children–and it does not have to equal--then this is known as joint physical custody. Remember this schedule can be mutually agreed upon by both parents in determining how much time each parent will spend with their child or children. If both parents cannot agree on the custody status, a family law mediator will be required and he or she may give their opinion to a family law judge who will then determine the timeshare for the children. It is always better, if possible, to take control and make the arrangements yourselves. Once you submit it to the court, you have no assurances how the court will rule.
    When it comes to decision making, there are many factors to consider such as education, religion, medical and dental, recreational activities, and so forth. The parents should determine who will make these important decisions for their children or they if they will share the responsibility of decision making. These decisions can be made solely by a parent or jointly by both parents. When a parent has sole legal custody, that parent will make any and all decisions regarding the legal custodial issues. When both parents are awarded joint legal custody the parents must compromise and agree when decision making for their children. This is by far the most common situation.
    If both parents fail to compromise and cannot mutually agree to a parenting plan, a family law mediator can assist. In any case involving separation or divorce that involves minor children both parties must immediately up for a mandatory mediation appointment. Prior to mediation they also must attend a PACT class. At mediation, both parents will sit and discuss and possibly work out a parenting plan with the court's mediator. During the mediation, both parents will try to work out a stabile routine that will benefit the children's future by creating a successful co-parenting plan, which fosters healthy relationship with both of their parents and also assuage disagreements or resentment that the parents might face. The mediator may give the judge his or her written recommendation of a parenting plan if both parents fail to agree and the case is in a non-confidential county; otherwise the session remains confidential and it goes to the judge without the mediator's input. This recommendation can become a court order if the judge signs it. To learn more about mediation please follow this link http://www.courts.ca.gov/1189.htm.
    If you need assistance in creating a parenting plan you can visit the court's website at http://www.courts.ca.gov/15872.htm. The Law Offices Of Gloria D. Cordova, Inc., can help with any and all of your parenting plan needs. Gloria D. Cordova practices family law and can help you with creating your custody and visitation agreement. Please give us a call at 909.612.5787 to set up a consultation. Also visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gcordovalaw?ref=hl.

 

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