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Child custody: Is it really necessary to draft a parenting plan?

One of the primary concerns of most California parents who consider divorce is likely their children. Although both parents may know that a formal parenting schedule will have to be made as part of the child custody process, the prospect of drafting a binding plan may seem overwhelming. Divorcing parents whose relationship remains amicable may question the need for a parenting schedule. Many of the twists and turns of life cannot be anticipated, and having a basic parenting plan may make it easier to modify the schedule when circumstances change.

The prospect of being bound to a parenting schedule for years to come may make parents hesitate to establish such a plan -- especially if the children are still very young at the time of the divorce. However, no parenting plan is for life. Parents who get along are free to parent in any way they want as long as they agree. The plan, which will be part of the divorce decree can be put away until the time comes when parents no longer agree and enforcement becomes necessary.

When drafting the parenting plan, certain guidelines can make the process easier. However, the primary consideration must be the interests of the children. Furthermore, it will make life much easier if the plan allows flexibility, without losing sight of the practicality of the schedule. In anticipation of contention in the future, it may be wise to be very specific about times for exchanging children after visits -- but only as a default.

As the separate lives of divorced parents proceed, new marriages, relocation and other events could create the need for modifications to parenting plans. To cope with all eventualities, a divorcing parent in California may find comfort in knowing that an experienced family law attorney can provide support and guidance throughout the child custody and other divorce processes. A lawyer can provide valuable input with the drafting of a parenting plan, including advice when it comes to a fair but flexible way to divide the holidays.

Source: Huffington Post, "How to Make a Parenting Schedule that Works", Karen Covy, Accessed on Sept. 4, 2017

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