One of the first steps after being served with a custody petition in a California custody action is drafting and submitting a parenting plan. A parenting plan is meant to be a guide or roadmap for how you and your co-parent will share legal and physical custody of your child.
Legal and physical custody
Legal custody means decision-making responsibilities. Courts usually award parents joint legal custody, which means that both parents have equal input on major decisions involving things like education, religion and medical issues.
Physical custody means who your child lives with and when. If you and your co-parent agree on how legal and physical custody will work, your parenting plan becomes a court order.
In a perfect world, you and your co-parent would share first drafts of your parenting plans and discover that you have agreed on everything. Realistically, this rarely happens, but that does not mean that with a little effort and willingness to listen to each other, you won’t ultimately end up with an agreement.
Consider your child’s needs
Create your parenting plan with your child in mind. Think about your child’s unique personality and attributes when determining the schedule that would be best for them. Remember, the custody agreement is about your child, not you.
Consistency and stability should be some of your main priorities with a custody schedule. While everyone will need to be more flexible in a custody-sharing arrangement, you should still try to keep your child’s schedule as consistent as possible.
This is especially important during the school year. No matter which parent they are with, your child should have a schedule that allows them ample time to do homework, have regular meals, get enough rest and spend quality time with each parent.
Support and assistance are available
As the custody process starts, you may still be in shock and adapting to this new reality. Having the advice and guidance of a trusted custody attorney can help you create and manage a parenting plan that is best for your child.