Under California law, the term “parenting plan” is used to inform how physical and legal custody will be shared. The Court is empowered to determine a parenting plan that is in your children’s best interests. The Court can order joint physical custody, sole physical custody to one parent and visitation to the other, joint legal custody or sole legal custody.

In addition to determining where the children are going to be at any particular time and who gets to make what decisions, a parenting plan can address many of the issues related to custody, such as what happens when a child is sick from school or when the custodial parent is out of town for two nights.

A lot of parents benefit from working with a neutral third party such as a co-parenting counselor to help them think about and reach agreements about how they want to deal with specific issues. Many parents find that having a parenting plan allows them to have a roadmap for questions that arise when children are raised in different homes. The plan may address topics such as communication between the households; bedtime; religion; use of cell phones; and introduction of prospective new partners or dating relationships.

A good parenting plan is something that grows with time and helps relieve some of the stress that often accompanies the transitions to a new way of parenting.