For parents who decide to end their relationship, the need to interact with one another rarely ends when the relationship ends or even after Judgment in your action is finalized. California courts look at the best interests of the child(ren) and the Legislature has declared that it is in the child(ren)'s best interests to have continual and frequent contact with both parents, unless there have been extenuating circumstances like abuse or drug addiction. For this reason, separated parents still need to interact, but now as co-parents rather than as spouses or significant others.
If you and your ex had a contentious split (or even if you didn't) it can be extremely difficult to collaborate with them after all that has happened between you. However, it is important to remember that you have a shared goal: the happiness and well-being of your child(ren). To achieve this goal, it is ideal to have a strong parenting plan in place. A parenting plan outlines how you will handle things like custody schedules, holidays, vacations, college savings, medical decisions, education, and more. Your parenting plan may be filed with the courts as part of your divorce agreement or may be handled between you outside of court. At MKH, we highly recommend filing your parenting plan with the courts. Let's look at three reasons why:
If the plan is filed with the court, you have accountability not only towards one another to follow it, but also toward the court. If either of you violates the plan by, for instance, refusing to let the other parent take custody of the child as scheduled, you can be held in contempt of court and face the consequences.
- Record keeping
Filing the parenting plan with the court sets a more concrete record of your agreement. Unlike with something more casual, neither of you can say, “Oh, I think you're remembering wrong. I thought we agreed to X, Y, and Z.” There will be no question as to what the initial agreement was or what your obligations are to one another and to your child or children.
- Stay out of court in the future.
Having a plan on record with the courts keeps you from having disputes in the future that could lead you back into court. This saves you time, money, and emotional turmoil. It may be a bit more effort at the outset, but it's definitely worth it.
If you are dealing with a family law issue related to divorce or child custody, the MKH team is here for you. We have extensive experience dealing with these matters. Whether you're ready to partner with us or you just want to ask a few questions, we encourage you to contact us today. We can't wait to hear from you!