Whether you were married for only a few years or for several decades, it's never easy to come to terms with the fact that your marriage isn't going to last a lifetime. Divorce is tough, and when children are involved, it's even tougher. However, getting divorced doesn't make you a bad parent.
As all good parents understand, the children's best interests are the highest priority when mapping out a plan for the future after a divorce. If you and your spouse are like-minded on all the major issues, such as where your kids will live, who will share holidays with them, what school they'll attend, etc., you may not encounter any serious obstacles; but if you disagree, there may be serious challenges ahead.
Key factors in a good parenting plan
There is no law against writing your own parenting plan. In fact, many California parents opt for this in order to avoid having to let a judge decide what's best for their kids. Even if you customize a plan, you still must seek the court's approval. The following list shows common issues addressed in successful parenting plans:
- You can list dates and times when children are to be with each parent. Especially concerning holidays and special school events, etc., scheduling parenting time can help avoid a lot of stress and confusion.
- Decide who will make important life decisions regarding your children. If you and your spouse are willing to cooperate and compromise, you may choose shared legal custody, or you may have a reason for wanting sole legal custody of your kids.
- A lot of divorce stress occurs when parents fight over money issues. You can avoid that by including expenses and finance issues in your parenting plan.
- If you and your spouse want to make sure certain rules exist regarding parenting time, you may write it all out in your parenting plan for the sake of clarity and to have documented proof that you both agreed to such rules in case a problem arises down the line.
Parents throughout California write their own parenting plans and then ask a family law attorney to review the proposals before submitting them to the court. Just because you sign a parenting agreement doesn't necessarily mean you can never implement changes. If the court approves your plan, however, it does mean you and your ex must continue to adhere to the terms unless and until the court grants a modification.