Developing a “Parenting Plan”
The Golden Rule for parents to follow when trying to come to an agreement on child custody decisions is “Always do what is in the best interest of the child”. Although this sounds obvious, it is easy for separating parents to lose sight of this due to the strong emotions and complex family dynamics involved.
With the child’s best interest in mind, the parents need to work together to come up with what is referred to as a “parenting plan”. The California self-help glossary defines a parenting plan as “a detailed custody and visitation agreement that says when the child will be with each parent and how decisions are made”. This can be done on their own, with the aid of a child custody mediation expert, or with the aid of divorce attorneys. If the parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, a family law judge will adjudicate a custody order based on his determination of what is in the best interest of the child.
Types of Custody
Joint Legal Custody: Joint legal custody allows either or both parents to make important decisions about a child’s health, education, and well-being. This is the most common legal custody arrangement.
Sole Legal Custody: In cases where one parent is deemed an “unfit parent”, sole legal custody is granted to the “fit parent”. A parent who has sole legal custody of their child has the sole legal power to make the decisions regarding their child’s welfare (e.g. education, health, extra-curricular activities). A parent with sole legal custody must, however, inform the other parent prior to moving away with their child. Sole custody is not necessarily a permanent situation. A parent who has been deemed unfit for custody has the right to petition the court to prove that he or she has become fit for some form of child custody arrangement.
Primary Physical Custody: This is simply a type of court order in which a child lives with one parent more than the other parent. There are many factors in determining who the primary physical custodial parent will be such as who has, up to this point, been the “primary care taker” of the child, the work demands of each parent, etc. Again, the guiding principle is the best interest of the child. It should be assumed a reflection of a parent’s abilities or character.
For the majority of parents going through a divorce, child custody can be a source of great stress and anxiety. The attorneys at Divorce Attorneys of Temecula we will fight to see that the best interests of you and your child are reflected in the final custody order.