When parents separate and move apart, children often have uncertainty as far as when they will see each of their parents and where they will live. This change from their usual routine can be confusing and upsetting and can cause children to be afraid. The court recognizes this situation as a serious concern and encourages parents to adopt a “parenting plan” for helping a child adjust to divorce and separation by ensuring they will have continuous and frequent contact with both parents. The plan can be an informal agreement, but it is best when it’s written to avoid misunderstandings.
Helping a Child Adjust to Divorce with a Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is simply an agreement between the parents to make sure that the children will have continuous and frequent contact with both of them after a divorce. The arrangement should take into account the child’s age, school and work schedules, any special needs of the child, emotional and psychological considerations and just about anything else that affects the health and well-being of a child. It’s important that the parents anticipate what is in the child’s best interest and then acknowledge how and when those needs will be met.
For example, one of our clients has a 7-year-old son and lives two miles from his school, which starts at 8 a.m. The parents agreed to a shared custody arrangement in which the child lived with the father Thursday after school until Sunday evening at 7 p.m. The father’s work schedule required him to be at work at 7 a.m. The mother did not have to be at work until 9 a.m. It was obvious in this situation that the father would have to either consider some child care and perhaps transportation for the child to school each day or try and work out an agreement with the mother to either pick up the child each morning and take him to school or agree to let the father drop the child off at the mother’s residence on his way to work. In this way, the parents could cooperate in helping each other with minimal disruption in the child’s routine.
What if the Parents Cannot Agree on a Parenting Plan?
In this situation, all parties, especially the children, suffer from confusion and uncertainty. We have had clients not knowing when or where they would see their children because both parents were doing their own thing without considering either the other parent’s schedule or that of the children.
If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the courts will impose their own plan or adopt one presented either by a mediator or one of the parents. Under California Family Code Section 3011, the court will make a decision based on what it considers to be in the best interest of the child. The Court has many factors to consider, including:
- The age, gender and state of development of the child;
- The emotional, social and educational needs of the child;
- The health, welfare and safety of the child;
- The level of communication and cooperation between parents;
- The parenting ability and psychological adjustment of each parent;
- The quality of the parent-child relationships;
- Parental support systems;
- Cultural factors.
Call the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
For over 30 years, the family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of individuals facing family law matters. If you are going through a divorce or child custody matter, please contact our experienced attorneys today.
We have offices in Orange County, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville, Torrance, Sherman Oaks and West Covina. Speak to us today at (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.