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State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

If you and your child’s other parent are separating, you will face the tough and highly emotional decision of trying to agree on a co-parenting plan. The children are inevitably affected in many different ways as a result. So, give your children the stable and predictable routine they need. Figure out how you and the other parent can each make time to be with your children by establishing a parenting plan.

A parenting plan, also called a “custody and visitation agreement,” is an agreement reached by the parents or ordered by the court about:

  • Time-share: A schedule for when the children will be with each parent; and
  • Decision-making: How the parents will make decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children.

With a written plan or court order, you and your children will know what to expect and will have fewer conflicts about shared parenting time.

Your parenting plan becomes a court order after it is signed by both of you, signed by the judge, and filed with the court. Make a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your children. When both parents are active in their children’s lives and do not fight over custody and visitation schedules, the children will usually do much better. Change is hard for children.

Parenting Plans in California Child Custody Matters

  • In general, parenting plans deal with “Physical custody,” which means where the children live and how they spend their time. Think about activities, overnights, and day-to-day care, and ask yourselves:
    • Where should our children be during the week? On weekends?
    • Where should our children be for holidays, summer vacations, and special days?
    • Which parent will be in charge of which activities (sports, music, homework)?
    • Which parent is in charge at which times?
    • How will our children get from one parent to the other? Who will pay the costs of transportation?
  • “Legal custody,” which means who makes important decisions about the children. Be clear and specific about which decisions each parent can make on his or her own and which decisions you will make together about:
    • Schools
    • Daycare
    • Religion
    • Medical and dental care
    • Emergency care
    • Jobs and driving (for older children)

Child Custody for Unmarried Parents

Parents who have a child with an individual they are not married to have a unique legal challenge when it comes to child custody litigation. In many cases, paternity may need to be established before seeking child custody orders form the court. Paternity is merely the process of establishing that both parents are in facts the biological parents of the child or children. Once “Paternity” has been established, the court will have the power to make orders regarding custody and visitation if the parents cannot reach an agreement among themselves.

The California Court Process for Child Custody

A Judge’s focus will always be what he or she perceives to be in the best interest of the child. Although somewhat subjective, California law does provide a list of factors for the judge to consider that includes:

  • Each party’s parenting skills and ability to co-parent
  • The child’s age and needs, including ties to school and the community
  • Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence by either party
  • The child’s preference, if mature and old enough for consideration

RM Law Group, LLP is committed to comprehensive advocacy, professionalism, and compassionate representation. Call our Cerritos child custody attorneys now at 888-765-2902 today to schedule a free, no obligation phone consultation regarding your matter. Attorney Jason Martinez is certified in family law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.