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What should we include in our California parenting plan?

Sharing custody of your children can be an incredible challenge. Even if you and the other parent of your children are on fairly good terms, it is not easy to parent separately. Because of this, it will be crucial that you have in place a clear, comprehensive parenting plan.

Your parenting plan will provide critical direction, boundaries and answers that should help both parents understand their roles and responsibilities. This document will be an essential guide, so it is important that you create it thoughtfully and with the guidance of an attorney. Below are some of the things you will want to be sure you discuss and include in your parenting plan.

  • The custody schedule: Lay out clearly when the children will be with which parent. Make a note of holidays and vacations, as well as contingency plans for when and if a schedule must be changed.
  • Specifications on which parent can make decisions for the kids: Will you both need to be consulted for medical decisions? Is one parent responsible for educational decisions? Is there a method you both prefer for discussing decisions together?
  • Guidance on care practices: While you can't control the minutiae of daily life, or how you each raise your child, you can discuss and lay out some of the ways you intend to keep some consistency in your children's lives. This might include bedtimes or curfews, school expectations and disciplinary boundaries.
  • Communication: Setting rules for when and how children are to be able to communicate with the non-custodial parent will be helpful. While you don't want phone calls and FaceTime with the other parent to interfere with your time with your kids, you also don't want them to feel like they can't speak to the other parent.

These are just some basic elements that you will want to include in your parenting plan. Additional items may be helpful for your specific situation, and depending on the type of custody arrangement in place, so be sure to discuss all your options in more detail with your attorney.

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