If you share children with another parent, you will eventually need to resolve custody issues and work on the terms of a marital settlement agreement or a parenting agreement. Even in the best of circumstances with amicable former partners, having a written and working parenting plan makes life easier for parents and children. A parenting plan should address not simply drop-off and pick up exchanges but also holiday schedules, the children’s participation in extracurricular activities, summer plans and many other matters. If you need help drafting a parenting plan or are at a stalemate with your ex-spouse regarding your child’s welfare post-divorce, our attorneys at Hughes Law Group can provide crucial advice and guidance.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan, or parenting agreement, is a written agreement drafted between both parents usually with the assistance of their attorneys. It provides guidance regarding schooling, religious preferences, extracurricular activities, weekly schedules, vacations, and holidays. For example, parents of older children may alternate physical custody on a weekly basis. Some parents choose a 4-3 schedule, meaning four days with one parent (often Monday to Thursday) and three days with the other parent (often Friday to Sunday) alternating. Other parents, particularly with younger children, may use a 3-2-2 schedule, a 2-3-2 schedule or another schedule in which the child is dropped off and picked up at least once a week. The parenting plan will also contain contact preferences, drop off and pick up arrangements, guidance regarding bedtime, meal time, and other structure for the child. There may be a clause regarding how often the custodial parent should check in with the non-custodial parent, what to do in the case of an emergency, or rules about overnight visitors.
Adding Clauses for Your Unique Needs
A parenting plan is what you make of it and the needs of children change. Some parents have restrictions about having other adults over in the presence of a child, sleepovers, when homework should be completed, who transports the child to extracurricular activities, and who pays for extracurricular activities. Vacations and holiday arrangements are also specified in the parenting agreement and marital settlement agreement. Some parents choose to alternate holidays each year. For example, the father has the child for Christmas 2020, and the mother has the child for Christmas 2021. Other parents might split Christmas morning/evening and Christmas Eve in the same year.
Usually there is also a clause about vacations. If a long vacation would interfere with the other parent’s custody time, a clause could be added about providing advanced notice to the other parent for planning. A clause can also be integrated restricting out of state or out of country travel (providing a written itinerary, sometimes even posting a bond for international travel).
A prevalent issue now is virtual versus in-person schooling. While some school districts are trying a hybrid method, California is in the midst of a health crisis due to the pandemic. Ultimately the decision to home-school, utilize virtual school or attend school in person is preferably a joint choice for both parents to make. Parents need to have a frank discussion about their child’s best interest and safety to develop a solution.
Enforcement and Modifications
A parenting agreement is directly enforceable in court by contempt if it has been submitted for judicial review and has been approved as an order of the court. If the terms of your child parenting plan requires modification because of extenuating circumstances, contact our attorneys. In addition, if the other parent is not honoring provisions of the agreement, is difficult to reach, or is not attending to your child’s needs, contact our attorneys as soon as possible for assistance.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Developing the terms of a parenting agreement is one of the most crucial steps of the divorce and custody process. If you need help with your complaint, marital settlement agreement, parenting agreement, or any other aspect of the family law process, contact our attorneys at Hughes Law Group. We practice in Sacramento County, Placer County and throughout the region. Schedule a consultation today.