Divorce is one of the toughest things you will go through in life, and if you have kids involved then it might be even more challenging. Child custody battles can easily get quite ugly, so you would be well advised to try and amicably settle decisions on co-parenting or division of parental duties and time with your children out of court. Here is how you can work towards creating a good child custody parenting plan.
When you develop a plan you will need to plan living arrangements and decide on parenting schedules. Who will the child live with? Primarily with one parent, or between two homes equally? List out holidays, vacation time and weekends. Consider how parental time was spent with the child before the divorce. Look at how schedules may change going forward. Chalk in office trips that might see you leave town and will require the other parent to step in.
Consider your children’s needs
Think of which home environment would be better for them at this stage of their lives. Do they need more time and attention from a particular parent? Will they benefit more from the facilities your ex-partner’s home can offer. For instance, a child who is young may need access to a good safe park and playground where they can meet other kids too.
Factor in any developmental needs of your children. A child with hyperactive traits or one with special needs might be better off with a calmer more patient parent, or one who has more time at hand to spend with them on their special learning requirements.
Work out a feasible plan
While you might want to spend all your free time with your child it may not be the most practical plan. Consider the limitations of living on your own. Will you be able to take time off from all your social engagements to be there at all times? If you’re not free do you have access to childcare or can you afford a nanny as a backup? While you might want your child to spend as much time with you as he/she does with your spouse, if your homes are far apart it might put undue stress on your child with a longer commute to school or result in separating them from their friends.
Take time on the details
If you and your partner agree that the child is better off with one parent full-time with visitation rights to the other parent, until the child is older, then have this stated clearly. For instance, you may say that the child will live with their mother until they are six years old after which a new plan will kick in.
If you are concerned about your child’s safety or the environment your child will be exposed to with your soon-to-be ex, then state the terms of the parenting plan clearly. If the agreement is subject to their conforming to certain rules like not bringing home anyone of the opposite sex, or not drinking or abusing drugs, this must necessarily be put in writing to be legally binding and to make it easier to take your child out of a potentially dangerous situation quickly.
In general, the more volatile your relationship with your spouse, the more care you will need to take with careful phrasing and detailing.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.