The Importance Of a “Parenting Plan”
If a Court should encounter a Dissolution of Marriage Petition involving Minor Children, the Law would prefer that the Parties could be willing and
able to fashion and agree upon a “Parenting Plan” that would enable a sharing of the custody and care of the kids, and on an equal and cooperative basis. However, it is often seen that such an arrangement will not be easily achieved, unless the parents would otherwise be willing to work together to an extraordinary degree, in order to facilitate such a committed arrangement. What is ironic, is that if the parents would be willing and able to so easily “get along,” they probably wouldn’t be splitting up in the first place. It is also generally seen, that the chances that a successful Parenting Plan will endure, will be the greatest, as long as the separated couple is living in the same general area, and where the kids have the same social routine and are going to the same schools, and where they can otherwise be exchanged with relative ease.
On the other hand, what if one of the parents wants to move away?
It wouldn’t have to be out-of-state, or any great distance for it to be a problem. It would only have to be far enough away so that the kids could not live equally with both parents and go to the same school, and share the same social groups, without having to travel an extraordinary distance for those activities. There could also be a significant problem connected with a need for frequently occurring changes in custody. All of these problems are at times especially acute, when one or more of the kids are so young, that they cannot easily assimilate or otherwise cope with extended periods of time out of the presence of one of the parents. In fact, this is especially a problem when children are under the age of six years, because it is often found that their brains will not be developed enough to adequately maintain the image and memory of the absent parent, without at least frequent exchanges of custody, and after relatively short spans of time with a particular parent. It is again ironic, that the age of five years will be the general time when a single school will have to be chosen and maintained. Of course, day care and pre-school will often occasion an earlier date for a certain single school.
In any case, while the law should generally prefer equal time for both parents, in order to comply with the statutory duty assigned to the courts to always act in the best interests of each child, courts should normally be expected to require frequent and continuing contact between the children and each of the parents. These days, and in particular in the State of California, the law will require some consultation with the minor, and in order to allow the youngster to express him or herself, in terms of what is wanted by the minor. A very important Family Law Judge, who also served on the Appellate Court, was often heard to say, “We don’t drag 15 year olds kicking and screaming into places where they don’t want to be.” Sometimes, mental health professionals are appointed by the courts, in order to help Judges determine what will be in the best interests of minors, and in keeping with recognized scientific principles regarding what will be in the Best Interests of a particular child. It is customary for attorneys to be appointed, as well, to represent the interests of the minor children.
Take a look at our other thoughts and information on child custody…