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What should your parenting plan cover?

A thorough parenting plan can be a great tool as you and your soon-to-be ex move to parenting your children separately. A good parenting plan can help ensure that the two of you are on the same page regarding how your kids will be raised. It can also minimize conflicts and misunderstandings that are stressful on kids.

Each plan is unique, based on the children's ages and needs. However, following are a few basic things that your plan should address.

How exchanges are handled

This can include specifications for how children are dropped off and picked up when moving from the custody of one parent to another. You can specify things like whether anyone else is allowed to transport your children besides a parent. You can designate whether kids can be dropped off or picked up at locations other than their parents' homes (like school or day care).

Accommodations to be provided

It's best for both parents to keep some things on hand for their kids to minimize how much they have to pack and carry when they switch homes. This can include clothing, toiletries, toys, electronics and school supplies. Some parents specify what kind of sleeping and living arrangements the child will have, such their own rooms.

How schedule and other custody changes are handled

Some parents specify how much notification is required if a parent is unable to take the kids for their scheduled custody or visitation time. If you have a co-parent who's chronically late, you may want limit for how late he or she can be in picking up or dropping off the kids.

You may also specify what kind of changes require notification of the other parent. This can include notification if there will be other people in the home, if sleeping arrangements need to be changed or if one parent wants to take a child for an unscheduled weekend.

Of course, your parenting plan will require some modification as your kids get older and circumstances change. However, if you have a thorough parenting plan at the beginning, you minimize the necessity to add things to it to deal with problems you experience while sharing custody. Your California family law attorney can provide valuable guidance as you work out your parenting plan.

Source: CustodyXChange, "Parenting Time and Exchanges Provision Examples," accessed June 13, 2018

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