The Most Common Types of California Parenting Plans
Divorce is rarely simple for any couple, but it is significantly more complex for couples who have children. Not only can divorce be a traumatic experience for the children, but divorcing with children requires the parents to hammer out the details of child custody, child support, and visitation matters. These negotiations can be difficult, and it can often seem like each side is merely attempting to get what they want without regard to the other parent’s — or the children’s — wishes. A carefully crafted and well-considered parenting plan can help mitigate some of these difficulties, and the best way to craft a parenting plan that works for you and that will be accepted by the courts is to work with an attorney at a Stockton child custody law firm.
California Policy on Child Custody
The general policy of the state of California is that children of divorced parents should have frequent and continuing contact with both parents except where that contact would not be in the best interests of the children. California courts are also directed to presume that joint custody is in the best interests of the children where the parents agree, absent a finding to the contrary. When making such an order, the courts will specify the rights of each parent to physical custody of the child. This most often takes the form of a parenting plan, which spells out in detail exactly when, where, and for how long each parent is entitled to physical custody of their children.
50/50 Parenting Plans
7-7 Parenting Plan
A 7-7 parenting plan (also known as a “week-on, week-off” parenting plan) is one of the most straightforward. Under this plan, the children alternate the weeks they spend with each parent, usually being exchanged on the same day of the week every week. 7-7 parenting plans are elegant solutions to child custody issues, but they may be too simple for many families. For example, many parents may live too far apart for a 7-7 parenting plan to work with their children’s school schedules.
2-2-3 Parenting Plan
With a 2-2-3 parenting plan, the child stays with one parent for two days, the other parent for two, and then the first parent for the next three days, and so on. This is a popular parenting plan because it gives each parent equal and frequent contact with their children and it allows the children to spend alternating weekends with both parents. However, like with 7-7 plans, it works best for families that live in close proximity to each other. It also requires frequent exchanges, which may be an issue for both parents and children.
2-2-5 Parenting Plan
A 2-2-5 parenting plan is similar to a 2-2-3 parenting plan except that the days of the week each parent has the children are fixed. For example, the father has Monday and Tuesday, the mother has Wednesday and Thursday, and then each parent alternates every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This plan generally works well for older children and for parents who live farther away from each other but still within reasonable driving distance. However, it may not work as well for younger children, as children can go up to five days without seeing the other parent.
Non-50/50 Parenting Plans
4-3 Parenting Plan
4-3 parenting plans are popular among former spouses who have been ordered to use a 60/40 custody schedule. The parent who has 60% of the parenting time gets four days of the week with the children, while the parent with 40% of the parenting time gets three days of the week with the children. Families may choose to use a fixed 4-3 schedule every week or an alternating 4-3 schedule. A fixed schedule offers consistency but allows the parent whose days fall on the weekend to spend every weekend with the children. An alternating 4-3 plan is less predictable, but it allows each parent to spend every other weekend with the children.
Long-Distance Parenting Plan
All of the parenting plans covered above assume that the parents live within reasonable proximity to each other, but that is not the case for a significant number of families. Divorced parents generally are free to relocate after divorce if they wish, but the courts may modify the former spouses’ custody arrangements should one parent choose to do so. For spouses who have joint physical custody, the parent who wishes to move must demonstrate to the court that the move is in the best interest of the children. If the court allows the relocation, it typically will order that one parent have the child during the school year and that the other parent have the child for all holidays, summers, and other school breaks. Navigating child custody when relocation is an issue can be tricky; if you are considering moving and have joint physical custody of your children, you should speak to an attorney at a Stockton child custody law firm who can assist you.
Parenting Plans Where One Parent Has No (or Few) Overnight Visits
Parenting plans do not necessarily need to be measured in terms of days. In some cases, they are measured in terms of hours. This is typically the case when a court determines that it is in the best interests of the children that there should be no overnight visits to one of the parents. In that scenario, the court will order that the children spend a certain number of hours per week with that parent. The parents can work out which days work best for this kind of visitation, but weekends work best in many cases.
Get Help Crafting a Parenting Plan that Works for You From an Attorney at a Stockton Child Custody Law Firm
Child custody arrangements are often one of the thorniest issues couples face in a divorce. While the “perfect” parenting plan does not exist, parents can nonetheless minimize the trauma and disruption of divorce by crafting a thoughtful parenting plan. To get started, please contact an attorney at the Stockton child custody law firm of McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau by using our online form or calling us at 209-477-8171.