Legal and physical custody issues and parenting plans commonly arise in California divorce cases involving minor children. Fortunately, when spouses work together, they can resolve most or all of these custody issues amicably via a parenting plan, without any input from a California court. It is only when the parties are unable to resolve these custody and visitation issues on their own that the court must become involved.
If you are currently at the beginning of divorce proceedings in the State of California, you need a Fresno family lawyer representing you throughout your case. An experienced Fresno family lawyer can assist you with developing an effective parenting plan for custody and visitation.
Legal custody refers to parents’ decision making power regarding their minor children. It may be sole or joint (shared). A good parenting plan should establish which parent(s) can make decisions with regard to the following:
- Schooling (e.g., public vs. private schooling)
- After-school or day care
- Emergency care
- Extra-curricular activities
Physical Custody and Visitation Schedules
Like legal custody, physical custody may also be either sole or joint (shared). When one parent has sole physical custody of the minor child or children, the other parent will usually be entitled to reasonable and liberal visitation. A good parenting plan will establish physical custody arrangements and will set out visitation schedules. Many factors may influence the parenting plan and visitation schedule. The most important of these are the ages and interests of the minor children. A good parenting plan should establish which parent is in charge at which time and should make arrangements for the following:
- Weekend visitation – When one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent may have entitlement to visitation on the weekend. The parenting plan should establish which weekend(s) in a given month the non-custodial parent will have visitation.
- Transportation arrangements – The parenting plan should establish which parent will be responsible for transporting the children to visitation (including drop-off and pickup locations). It should also provide for transportation arrangements to and from after school activities and extracurricular activities.
- Holiday and birthday visitation arrangements – The parenting plan should establish which parent or parents the children will spend time with over school breaks and on certain holidays, including birthdays. Many parenting plans provide for visitation over Thanksgiving Break, Christmas (Winter) Break, Easter (Spring Break), July 4th, and other holidays throughout the year. The parenting plan should also spell out what happens when a vacation period conflicts with a regularly scheduled weekend visitation.
- Vacation arrangements – The parenting plan should set aside a certain number of weeks during the year fotheser vacation time with each parent.
Implementing a Parenting Plan
It is important for parents to communicate effectively with one another as business partners — and that they be polite and courteous in their dealings with one another. They should also refrain from making their children ‘mediators’ or ‘go-betweens’ when disputes inevitably arise. Rather, they should allow their children to voice any concerns they have about the process and learn to value their input.
A parenting plan becomes effective once both spouses and a judge of the court sign and approve the agreement.
Contact a Fresno Family Lawyer Today
If you are in the midst of a divorce proceeding involving minor children, you need a parenting plan in place. Attorney Rick Banks can represent you throughout your case and can assist you with drafting a workable agreement. Contact The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks at 559-222-4891 for an initial consultation.