When a divorce case involves a family with young children, the conflict between parents can expose a child to situations that can have a lasting impact on their emotional development. During a divorce, children might experience significant fear about themselves. Often, children might believe that they are at fault or will start doubting if one of their parents still loves them.
These situations have the potential to leave lasting effects on a child’s psychological wellbeing, including their ability to handle adversity and hardship. As a result, it is important to craft a parenting plan that will protect children from the conflict between parents.
In California, a parenting plan—also known as a child custody and visitation agreement—outlines the specific terms and conditions regarding the decision making authority of the parents and how each of them will spend time with the child.
At a basic level, a good parenting plan should address the following:
- Safety and security: All parenting plans should promote the safety and security of a child. The specific terms of a good parenting plan must consider the child’s needs for love, protection, and guidance.
- Age and experience: The needs of a child vary depending on their age and experience. A thoughtful parenting plan will take the child’s age and experiences into consideration, staying mindful of how their needs may change in the coming years of their development.
- Consistency and regularity: A child benefits from stability in their relationships and environments. A parenting plan that preserves and promotes consistency and routine can help minimize the adverse consequences of going through a divorce.
- Comprehensiveness: A good parenting will be both easy to understand yet thoroughly thought out, outlining what steps to take in case of certain emergency situations.
This blog provides some tips on how to draft a parenting plan that protects your child from the harmful conflict between you and your former spouse.
Keep Children at the Center
California law requires courts to determine custody issues based on the child’s best interests. As a result, the provisions of a parenting plan should reflect a parent’s same concern for the best interests of their children. A court will not approve a parenting plan that clearly forces a child to accommodate the parents’ needs over a parenting plan that requires the parents to accommodate their child’s needs.
By identifying, understanding, and addressing your child’s basic needs in your parenting plan, parents will not only be in a better position to shield their child from harm but will have a better chance of getting the court to approve the plan and move forward with finalizing the divorce process.
Studies have shown that a child generally benefits from having both parents in their life. California's legal policy reflects this understanding, as courts are more inclined to make custody decisions where both parents are in the picture.
However, if parents are getting divorced, there is a fair chance that challenges in communication and cooperation between the parties led them there.
If possible, parents should find a way to maximize cooperation with each other when it comes to making a parenting plan. When it comes to parental decision making, a parenting plan should require parents to keep each other informed about scheduling issues, emergencies, and major plans—such as out-of-state or overseas vacationing.
In high-conflict cases, a parenting plan may need to minimize contact between parents. A parenting plan for high-conflict parents may require contact only in emergency situations. However, parents should understand that such parenting plans are less flexible and consistent for both parents and children.
Be Simple and Specific
When it comes to the details of your parenting plan, the simpler and more specific the terms are, the more successful parents are at compliance. Simple terms that using specific dates, times, and locations make understanding and enforcing parental responsibilities easier.
Under a parenting plan that is easy to understand and follow, parents will have less stress in their lives. Less stress entails less conflict, which is better for the children involved.
A good parenting plan should be specific and simple where possible, and reasonably flexible when it is necessary. For the most part, parenting—especially between divorced parents—is an area where surprise is generally unwelcome. By promoting a parenting plan with specificity and simplicity, you will foster predictability and minimize or eliminate parenting surprises.
For Legal Advice, Contact Fenchel Family Law
Parenting notoriously occupies a person’s attention and consumes their energy and resources. This may be even more true for divorced parents. If you are going through a divorce, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney for advice. At Fenchel Family Law, we can take control of the complicated legal aspects of your divorce so you have enough time and energy to handle more important things like parenting.
To arrange for an initial consultation about your case, call Fenchel Family Law at (415) 650-1112 or contact us online today.