The younger children are, the more difficult it can be for parents to negotiate a satisfactory custody arrangement. The terms that the adults in a family include in a parenting plan can establish the schedule that their children maintain and also explain how they should share parental authority.
Those putting together a parenting plan need to think about not just current needs but also the likely future needs of the family as the children mature. Particularly when families include preschool-age or younger children, the parenting plan may need to grow with the children. Adults may want to negotiate terms that look at the long-term needs of the family, not just the current support needs of their children.
How can parents create a parenting plan that adjusts to the needs of their children?
Plan for future scheduling changes
When children are particularly young, parents may have to limit their shared custody arrangements. However, as children get older, they can spend longer amounts of time away from their primary caregiver. Parents who create schedules that change as their children mature won’t need to go back to court to renegotiate custody arrangements every time their children reach new developmental milestones.
Prepare for decision-making needs
There are issues that arise as children mature that are typically not relevant for parents with younger children. For example, rules about social media or when the children can start dating may not matter when the children are preschool age but can become very important in middle school and high school. Issues ranging from the type of medical care the children receive to their social habits could lead to conflict between the parents. Certain household rules or standards can help prevent unnecessary conflicts.
Establish specific standards
As children get older, their performance in school may become more important for their future opportunities. Parents may have an easier time encouraging their children to achieve their goals when both adults agree on the standards and priorities for the children. From expectations regarding what grades they need to maintain that to requirements for household responsibilities as they mature, what parents expect from children will change as they mature. Parents who preemptively establish standards for their children in their parenting plans when they are young can eliminate many unnecessary conflicts that could arise as the children mature.
Taking the time to establish a very thorough parenting plan can benefit those preparing to share custody in California. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.