When ending a marriage in California, a solid parenting plan can help ease the transition for children. This legal document details the custody arrangements and provides a template for an agreeable co-parenting relationship.
Review the factors that influence child custody in California as you collaborate on a parenting plan.
Types of visitation
California refers to visitation as time-sharing and encourages the inclusion of a detailed visitation schedule in the parenting plan. In addition to the specific days the child will spend in each household and designated transition times, the parenting plan should include the handling of special occasions, vacations and holidays.
Some parenting plans indicate reasonable visitation. This open-ended arrangement does not have a specific schedule. Some families prefer the flexibility of this type of schedule but it may lead to disagreements and miscommunication.
Best interest factors
California courts encourage parents to share legal custody, or decision-making on behalf of the child, as well as physical custody. However, they also ensure that such an arrangement benefits the child’s best interest based on factors that include a history of substance abuse, neglect or physical abuse for either parent, the current relationship with each parent, and the child’s health and well-being. The court will also consider the opinion of children who are at least 14 and have the maturity to express a preference.
In rare cases, the state awards primary physical custody to one parent if contact with the other parent would cause physical and emotional harm. The court may establish supervised visitation if one parent has challenges such as substance abuse that put the child at risk.