After a child’s parents have divorced or separated, a parenting plan can help to define custody, visitation, and decision-making responsibilities. A well-thought-out co-parenting agreement makes sure that your child will have a stable and consistent schedule, which is needed for healthy development. If you want to learn more about parenting plans and schedules in California, here are a few tips for creating a co-parenting agreement. 

Parenting Plan Basics

Before creating a parenting plan, you should know the difference between legal and physical custody. When both parents have legal custody, they can make decisions about the child’s upbringing, including healthcare, education, and religion. 

On the other hand, physical custody focuses on where the child will reside. Parenting plans and schedules are important because they will outline all the details that both parents must follow. 

What Should Be Covered in a Parenting Plan and Schedule?

Children thrive on routine and predictability. You will want to focus on this when drafting a parenting plan. Take time to consider the child’s daily and weekly schedule. When specifying the time-sharing schedule, make sure to detail when the child will reside with each parent during weekdays, weekends, holidays, and school breaks.

Additionally, you and the other parent will want to outline the responsibilities for day-to-day care, including drop-offs, pickups, meals, and bedtime routines. Remember that most school-age children will have homework, school events, and extracurricular activities. Your time-sharing agreement needs to reflect that. These agreements should ensure that your child has time and access to participate in these activities. Also, if one parent wants to take the child on a vacation, these exceptions must be handled within the agreement. 

However, it is not just about physical custody. Your parenting plan needs to relay how healthcare-related decisions will be made, including who chooses doctors, dentists, and specialists. Unfortunately, medical emergencies can occur at any time. For that reason, you will need to specify how those will be handled as well. 

Education is another topic that must be addressed. Both parents need to agree on the school where the child will attend. You might even want to look at the smaller details, such as handling parent-teacher conferences. Even specific details out what religion the child will follow should be documented in the co-parenting agreement. 

While all of these factors may not seem necessary, there are times when questions will arise during shared custody. With a plan in place, you can avoid any confusion and make sure that the child has a stable environment to grow and thrive.

Crafting Your Co-Parenting Agreement

This agreement is essential in establishing a healthy and successful co-parenting relationship. Starting early is key. Remember, the earlier you begin discussions, the more time you have to communicate and find compromises that work for both parties.

If you create an agreement, make sure to put it in writing. A verbal agreement can lead to misunderstandings. You will also want to be specific about the schedule, including days, times, and responsibilities, which helps to avoid confusion and miscommunication.

While you want to get the basics down for the agreement, you may also want to remain flexible. Changes can happen. Work commitments, illnesses, or other unexpected events should be accommodated. 

You may want to think about using dispute resolution in the co-parenting agreement for any potential conflicts. With help from the other parent, detail how any disagreements will be resolved. You could elect to go through mediation, counseling, or another method to prevent conflicts from escalating.

Finally, remember that these agreements should be reviewed as the child grows. Over the years, their needs will change. With that in mind, both parents may need to adjust the agreement so it continues to serve their child’s best interests.

Get Assistance for Your Parenting Plans and Schedules in California

When you are creating a co-parenting agreement in California, you and the other parent need to take a child-centered approach. Sometimes, you may need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. 
At Roberts & Zatlin Law Office, we are ready to help. Our office in Temecula offers legal services to Menifee, Hemet, Sun City, Lake Elsinore, Winchester, Wildomar, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange County, Vista, San Diego, Inland Valley, and all other parts of the state. To schedule a consultation today and receive a free initial assessment of your case, please call (951) 381-8147 today.

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