When most divorcing parents think about custody, they think about the routine schedule: Will your children spend alternating weeks with each parent? Will one parent have primary custody while the other has “visitation” every other weekend? Is there a different option that would work better for your personal circumstances?
While these are indeed important questions, figuring out the routine schedule is just one aspect of developing a custody arrangement (or “parenting time plan”) during a divorce. There are numerous other considerations, as well, and failing to address these considerations during your divorce could lead to unnecessary, uncomfortable, and potentially-costly disputes with your former spouse down the line.
7 Special Considerations for Establishing Custody During a California Divorce
The following are seven examples of issues that California parents will typically need to consider when establishing child custody during their divorce:
While following a routine custody schedule during the holidays is one option, most parents prefer to make specific arrangements to ensure that they will be able to spend time with their children during special times of the year. This could mean assigning certain holidays to each parent, alternating individual holidays each year (i.e. one parent spends Thanksgiving with the children in 2019 and then the other parent “gets” Thanksgiving in 2020), or taking turns from one holiday to the next (i.e. one parent gets Memorial Day and then the other parent gets Independence Day).
Divorcing parents will typically find it advantageous to establish guidelines regarding vacation planning as well. For example, some parents will establish summer vacation windows that deviate from their standard week-to-week parenting schedule. Deciding when (and to what extent) one parent can have a say in the other parent’s vacation travel plans will often prove beneficial as well.
As a general rule, divorced parents with minor children will benefit from maintaining consistency regarding the children’s curfew. If one parent permits the children to stay up much later than the other, not only can this affect how the children view their time spent with each parent, but it can potentially affect the children’s development and behavior as well.
4. Cell Phones and Screen Time
Similar to curfew, establishing consistent rules regarding cell phones, screen time, and other similar types of issues will often be in the best interests of both parents. The parents can agree to continue enforcing the rules that they enforced prior to their divorce; and, if desired, they can establish guidelines for imposing new rules as their children age.
5. Pickups and Drop Offs
When establishing a parenting plan, in addition to addressing rules and scheduling, it is important to address some of the practicalities as well. One area where this can be of particular importance is pickups and drop offs. The parents should be clear as to who is responsible for transportation at each custody and visitation period; and, if necessary, the parents should also address transportation for school and extracurricular events.
6. Education, Activities and Healthcare Needs
Which parent will attend school functions? Who will make decisions regarding participation in extracurricular activities? What are the parents’ rights and obligations when a child has a doctor’s appointment or medical emergency? These are important practical considerations that also need to be addressed.
7. Parent Communications
Finally, as a general rule, divorced parents should avoid discussing scheduling conflicts and other potential issues in front of their children. While not always necessary, many parents will find it beneficial to establish guidelines for communicating with one another after their divorce.
Request a Case Evaluation with a North County, San Diego Family Law Attorney
If you are a parent living in the North County, San Diego area and you are contemplating a divorce, we encourage you to contact us for more information. To request an appointment with family law attorney Richard M. Renkin, please call 619-299-7100 or inquire online today.