One of the most complex parts of ending a marriage is figuring out how to continue parenting your children after the divorce occurs. In California, filing for divorce generally involves creating a custody and visitation agreement, often known as a parenting plan. Having a written plan may help reduce parenting-related arguments between you and your ex-spouse. If you have older children, a comprehensive parenting plan may also help them understand what their lives will look like after the divorce.

The Judicial Branch of California provides many resources for divorcing parents, including information on parenting plans. According to the California Courts, your parenting plan should cover two main topics: decision-making and time-sharing. The decision-making portion of your agreement may describe how you and your ex-spouse plan to make essential decisions about your children’s education, health and medical care. The time-sharing aspects of your plan may set up a schedule for when your children will be spending time with each parent.

You and your spouse may negotiate the terms of your parenting plan during the divorce process. The plan becomes a legal document once you, your ex-spouse and a judge sign it and file it through the court. Some of the essential things to cover in your plan are your children’s daily and weekly schedules. For example, you may agree on who will pick up your children from school and where they will live during the weekdays and weekends. There may be a different time-sharing schedule during school breaks. Your plan may also cover emergency medical care, religious activities and driving privileges for older children. The most important aspect of any parenting plan is that it prioritizes what is best for your children.

This general information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.