FAQs About Parenting Plans

FAQs About Parenting Plans

California courts are strongly “pro-child.” Typically, decisions are based on the best interests of any children involved in a divorce or legal separation. Let’s look at a few questions frequently asked about parenting plans.

What is a parenting plan?

When a divorcing couple have children, they need to agree on how to care for them. Also called a custody and visitation agreement, the parenting plan sets out how physical and legal custody will be handled.

To avoid misunderstandings, a parenting plan should include specific provisions about each parent’s responsibilities and obligations. For example, a plan might state who will handle:

  • Health care and medical treatments,
  • School, educational, and extracurricular activities,
  • Exchanging the children after a visit,
  • Parenting styles,
  • Child care; and
  • Travel and relocation.

Courts look for a plan that provides the best possible solution for the children.

What if parents can’t agree on a parenting plan?

The first step is mediation. Both parents work on sample plans with their attorneys, then present their proposed parenting plans to the mediator. Although mediation is not legally binding, mediators often facilitate agreements between disputing parents.

However, sometimes mediation fails. If so, the couple schedule a hearing where their parenting plans can be presented for the judge’s consideration. The court renders a decision, sometimes with the help of independent counselors or the mediator.

What happens after we sign the parenting plan?

When parents are able to agree, then they simply submit their parenting plan to the court. Unless the judge sees something wrong with the plan – something that is not in the best interests of the children – the plan usually is approved.

Our parenting plan was approved. What now?

Follow the parenting plan. If you find that sections are not working, talk to your attorney about adjustments.

Any of the following behaviors may violate the terms of your parenting plan:

  • Trying to turn your child against his or her other parent,
  • Being late when it is time to return your child after visitation,
  • Refusing to allow visitation at all, or
  • Refusing to handle educational or healthcare decisions as agreed.

When you violate your parenting plan, you are violating a court order. A judge may hold you in contempt of court. The consequences could be as simple as attending a parenting class or as severe as jail time.

Final Thoughts

The driving principle behind a parent plan is to act in the best interests of the child. Make sure your parenting plan is right for your children.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call us at 415-293-8314 to talk about your divorce. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities. We are opening a Beverly Hills office soon.

How to Help Your Kids Thrive During a Divorce

How to Help Your Kids Thrive During a Divorce

Children feel a whole range of emotions during a divorce. They may be too young or too damaged to express and deal with those emotions, though. There are ways, however, that you and your ex-spouse can help your kids thrive, even in the middle of a divorce proceeding.

Talk to your children … and let them know they can talk to you.

Reassurance is important. Tell them the divorce is not their fault and that they are still loved. Since communication is a two-way street, make sure they know they can talk to you about anything, any time.

Don’t badmouth the other adults in their young lives.

You may have some pretty strong feelings about your child’s other parent right now. Those hard feelings may extend to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even family friends. Try hard to keep bad thoughts to yourself or only vent to another adult when your children are not around. Letting off steam might help you feel better, but it won’t help your children cope.

Coordinate with their other parent.

Parents who are divorcing need to complete a written agreement called a parenting plan. Use this opportunity to calmly coordinate rules, discipline, school events, holiday and other things your children need to feel safe, loved, and protected.

Don’t interfere with scheduled visitation.

Punishing your children because you’re mad at your ex is never a good idea. The only reason to withhold visitation is if you think your child is being endangered. Even then, you need to alert your attorney or the court that there’s a problem.

Watch for warning signs.

Children deal with stress in different ways. Watch for any indication that your son or daughter is not handling the divorce well. Unchecked anxiety, anger, depression, and the like can lead to long-term damage. If your child is behaving oddly, losing interest in activities, or their grades are slipping, seek help for them.

Keep Their Best Interests in Mind.

Divorce is hard on everyone involved. Even though you’re hurting and stressed out right now, remember that your children have needs, too.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience with divorce and child custody matters. In fact, Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist. Please feel free to call us at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Cost, including San Francisco, Marin County, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
My Husband Got Custody of Our Kids. Do I Have to Pay Child Support?

My Husband Got Custody of Our Kids. Do I Have to Pay Child Support?

Some of the most difficult and heart-wrenching decisions to make during a divorce involve children. Who will provide a home for the kids and money to care for them? Regardless of where the kids live, both parents are expected to be financially responsible for their children. This expectation may lead some people to question why they have to pay child support if the other parent has physical custody. 

California courts require every parent to be financially responsible for their children.

Child support is the law, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to calculate. Courts will consider several factors when calculating who should pay child support:

  • Both parents’ financial circumstances,
  • The children’s needs,
  • Whether additional support is needed for special expenses, child care costs, etc. and
  • The amount of time each parent has physical responsibility for the children.

Custody arrangement can make a difference.

“Time-share” – the amount of time the parent spends with the children – typically takes three forms:

  • One parent spends more time caring for children. The other parent usually pays child support. Occasionally, though, there’s a great discrepancy between the parents’ income. Generally, the parent with the greater income will pay child support to the parent with lower income. This scenario can be tricky. It is best to consult a family law attorney.
  • Parents spend about the same amount of time with the kids. The parent with the higher income may pay some child support to the other parent.
  • Parents of multiple children ‘split’ up the children. For example, in a family with two children, one child lives with mom and one child lives with dad. Child support may be paid depending on the parents’ income or special needs.

What’s best for the children?

It really comes down to taking care of the children’s needs, regardless of their address. Maybe you have questions about child support or are considering separate or divorce. Give us a call at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Cost, including San Francisco, Marin County, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
How to Help Your Kids during Your California Divorce

How to Help Your Kids during Your California Divorce

Looking for expert advice about how to help your children cope during your divorce is a solid first step. When children learn that their parents are divorcing, it can feel like their world is spinning out of control. Fortunately, as parents, you have a great degree of influence and can help your children adjust to this new chapter in their lives.

The single most important thing that parents can do to help their children cope with divorce is to keep the kids out of the conflict. Research has shown time and again that it is not divorce itself that leads to so many of the negative consequences for kids; instead, it is how the parents handle the divorce that is the best predictor of how kids fare.

Here are some ideas to help you avoid drawing your kids into parental conflict:

  • Don’t tell your children the details of why you are divorcing or place blame on the other parent.
  • Store important documents and communications, such as letters and emails, in a place where your kids won’t see them.
  • If it is safe to do so and abuse is not an issue, encourage your kids to stay in contact with the other parent and his or her extended family through phone calls.
  • Don’t vent about or discuss adult issues when your kids are around, and counsel your friends and family not to do so.
  • Don’t ask your kids to choose with whom to spend time; follow your custody and visitation schedule.
  • Don’t ask your children to spy on the other parent or to deliver messages or payments on your behalf.

In addition to keeping your kids out of your conflict, it’s important to spend time with your children, to listen to them, to reassure them of your love for them, and to validate their feelings.

For compassionate legal counsel during this difficult time, contact the experienced family attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We will provide legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

Study: Working Together as Parents Can Prevent Mental Health Issues in Kids of Divorce

Study: Working Together as Parents Can Prevent Mental Health Issues in Kids of Divorce

A recent paper brings positive news for kids of parents whose marriage is on the fritz: Parents can play a meaningful role in preventing their kids from suffering from mental health issues post-divorce. Research has long shown that kids suffer mentally from a divorce, however, the new research review shows that this result may be preventable.

A pair of authors from Portugal reviewed 11 studies published over a 14-year period before drawing their conclusions. They considered only peer-reviewed empirical papers “that aimed to assess the association between coparenting and psychological development or function in children with divorced parents.”

Their findings are not surprising. The authors report that the fact of divorce is not what tends to lead to negative consequences, such as anxiety and depression. Rather, the way joint parenting is approached after a divorce “has a significant impact on children’s mental health.”

Three findings were particularly telling:

  • When children were exposed to conflict in co-parenting, they “were more likely to have issues with problems such as attention deficit.”
  • “Children’s perception of their parents’ coparenting predicted anxiety and depression” in those children.
  • Lower levels of child self-esteem were associated with “coparental hostility and conflict.”

This review suggests that parents can positively impact their children’s mental health reactions to divorce by presenting a positive coparent relationship. In the study review, a positive relationship was associated with better “academic performance and psychosocial wellbeing of children.”

If you want to minimize the effects of your divorce or separation on your kids, it is important to separate the problems in your personal relationship with the other parent from your respective roles as coparents moving forward. From this standpoint, the recent study confirms what many people likely suspected.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in family law matters and can advise you about many of the consequences of divorce. Contact us today to learn how our attorneys can help you in your case: (415) 293-8314.