Palmer Rodak & Associates
Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal SpecializationServing your Community for 19 Years
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Plan to succeed when you write a new parenting plan for divorce

You're definitely not the first California parent who has had to tell their children they are getting divorced. You may have worried about your conversation for days ahead of time, but hopefully, your close relationship and reassurance to your children that you are there to support them made for a healthy, productive discussion. Now that that's over, you may now focus on the tangible aspects of your upcoming divorce, especially your need for a new parenting plan.

The court is the final voice of authority in all matters related to your divorce. However, it is legal for you to write your own parenting plan, and then submit it to the court for approval. In fact, this is typically the preferred way to do things as it allows you to have more input in your own plan and saves the court a lot of work.

How to go about it and what to include

You obviously need to discuss any and everything that you wish to include in your new parenting plan with your former spouse. If the two of you get along well enough, these negotiations may be virtually painless. If, on the other hand, you have difficulty communicating in an amicable fashion, you may be in for one of your greatest challenges yet. The following list provides suggestions that may be helpful:

  • You may want to brainstorm and create a list of everything you think should be included in your parenting plan. There are no rules regarding what must or may not be included. Developing your own plan is a personal matter and you are free to determine what you feel is most important in order for your family to successfully adapt to a new lifestyle following your divorce.
  • It's best to spell everything out regarding where your children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent and whether you will seek shared custody or a custodial/non-custodial arrangement. 
  • Don't forget holidays and special events. When you fail to specifically mention these in a post-divorce parenting plan, problems can arise when a special date or event comes up and parents argue about who will share the particular occasion with the children. If you put it all in writing ahead of time, there's little room for confusion or conflict. 
  • The topics of physical custody and legal custody are separate issues. Your parenting plan needs to address both. Physical custody refers to your children's residence. Legal custody, on the other hand, pertains to decision-making authority, along with whether both parents must consent before making a major life decision on the children's behalves. 

Many California parents ask experienced family law attorneys to review their proposed parenting plans before asking the court for its stamp of approval. This often prevents delays and disputes, as most attorneys are also skilled negotiators who can spot potential problems in a plan and provide suggestions for revision.

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Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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