What Is a Parenting Plan and Why Do We Need One?

Every divorcing couple in California, or their attorneys on their behalf, must develop a parenting plan, also known as a “custody and visitation agreement” or a “time-share plan.” The parenting plan is essentially a written agreement between parents detailing how much time the children will spend with each parent and a plan for making important decisions in the future about the child’s welfare and education. The purpose of a parenting plan is multifold. Developing the plan allows both parents to have input, and in the process allows parents to better understand which factors are more or less important to the other parent. Having a good lawyer on your side allows you to negotiate according to the information derived in the process, without your emotions betraying your good judgment. A comprehensive parenting plan will include many factors, including a method for making important decisions about the child and a plan for breaking a tie. For instance, parents can agree that if a tie-breaker is needed, they will consult a qualified mediator to help them reach a joint decision. Divorcing parents who do not agree on an initial parenting plan may be ordered to engage in mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, an independent counselor may be appointed to meet individually with both parents. If the parties still cannot agree on a parenting plan, the judge may create a plan considering factors recommended by the mediator and counselor, along with the individual requests of the parties. We strive in every case to make sure our clients’ voices are heard in developing a parenting plan, and to gain the other parent’s agreement to the plan. The reason is simple — it is better for parents to craft an agreement based on their knowledge of their children’s specific needs, rather than being forced to comply with a parenting plan constructed by a judge who does not know the children or all of the family dynamics at issue. In cases where it is impossible to reach a reasonable agreement with the other parent, we will aggressively pursue a parenting plan that meets our client’s needs and promotes the best interests of the children. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can assist you in fighting for your rights and those of your children in a visitation or custody dispute in California. Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas. If you are a parent with a visitation or custody issue, call us today to learn more about how we can help you. Call (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.