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Developing A Parenting Plan

Santa Rosa Parenting Plan Attorneys

Parenting is hard under even the best of circumstances.  Emotional break-ups and divorces add extra pressure to parents on both sides of the situation.  You don’t have to go it alone.  The Santa Rosa Family Law Attorneys at Vandyk Law are here to help you sort things out.  Things will change but you can still have a normal, healthy, and productive co-parenting experience.  Let us assist you in developing a mutually beneficial parenting plan so you can move on with your life.  Call us today at (707) 528-1100 for your confidential consultation.

Shared Parenting Plan Examples

The court can provide common examples of child share plans but there is no hard-fast rule. You and your spouse may submit a different plan if it’s in the best interest of the child and it’s important to note that there is no plan that is perfect for every kid at every age. Keep in mind that you may need to revisit it when the child(ren) are older or if you or the other parent moves. The key is to keep an open mind and try to be flexible for the benefit of everyone involved.

Sonoma County Courts

The plan you choose should consider a number of aspects, including but not limited to:

Typically, infants, especially if still on breast milk, will temporarily spend the majority of their time in the nursing mother’s home. Toddlers or the younger child will adjust better if they are not transitioning between houses too frequently. Elementary level children can handle more transitioning, but it is wise to keep their schedules between the two homes as consistent as possible during the school year so that schoolwork and required sleep doesn’t suffer. Although tweens and teenagers can handle more transitions they usually want more control over their schedule due to school, activities, work, and time with friends, so it is wise to consider their needs when creating a plan at this stage;

  • Temperament and any special needs of child;
  • Child’s ability to adapt to change;
  • Parent’s work schedule.

Co-Parenting After Divorce

We’ve agreed on a plan and it’s been made an order of the court, what’s next? Welcome to co-parenting. While it has been said that going through a divorce can be as painful and heart-wrenching as the death of a loved one, post-divorce can come with its own set of emotions full of ups and downs. How do I co-parent if my ex-spouse and I don’t even get along? If you find that parenting with your ex-spouse is more difficult than you expected, relax, and give yourself some time. Co-parenting is a learned trait and one that takes a lot of patience, a lot of practice, and some time to figure out but if done right your children will experience less emotional distress leading to a healthy, happy and well-adjusted childhood. How parents treat each other, e.g, talk to each other has a huge influence on how resilient the child is after divorce. Since the goal is to ultimately raise healthy, well-adjusted, and emotionally stable children, prioritizing your co-parenting efforts is recommended. Easier said than done, right? You’re not alone, here are a few tips and resources to get you started:

Co-Parenting vs. Parallel Parenting, What’s the Difference?


In principle, California’s family courts believe that a child has always, the right to maintain a stable relationship with both parents unless there is a need to protect the child through judicial action. “Co-Parenting” is a process where two parents work together to raise a child even though they are divorced or separated and no longer live together.  Courts may order the parents to attend a certain number of co-parenting classes with a licensed marriage and family therapist or the couple may elect to do it on their own. Regardless, there are many benefits to going to co-parent counseling either during the dissolution process or right after the divorce to revisit some outstanding issues that you and your ex-spouse have not been able to navigate successfully on your own. When parenting issues are negotiated outside of earshot of the child(ren) and done in a respectful way with a third party to mediate, it opens up a dialogue and builds trust that can only benefit the child.

Parallel Parenting

Parallel Parenting is most often used in high-conflict divorce and where there is often equal or close to equal custody.

Parallel parenting” is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other and having limited direct contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner.” Sometimes couples need clear and concise rules and boundaries to work within while giving them time to heal and get used to this new way of life called co-parenting. You will sometimes see elements of parallel parenting included in recommending reports from court mediators. When a recommending court counselor recognizes that parents are not able to effectively communicate in a way that protects the child(ren), they may include any or all of the following provisions in their recommendation to the court for a child sharing plan:

  • All communication between parents must be “business-like” in nature and relate to information relevant to the child’s wellbeing;
  • Parents may not use their child/ren as messengers;
  • Changes to the child/ren schedule shall only be made in writing to be mutually decided upon or recommended by mediator;
  • Keeping a notebook regarding child’s health, homework, sleep habits, etc. to be passed back and forth between parents at exchange;
  • School and Extra-Curricular Schedules to be shared via approved and agreed upon online calendar to minimize conflict.

The above tips are provided to help parents, who find themselves in a high conflict divorce where often there is little trust between parents. Parallel parenting gives both parents time to become acclimated to a new way of life and parenting while implementing boundaries. Over time, if both parents commit to the process respectfully, they will gradually start to rebuild trust among each other and can move to a more flexible co-parenting routine opening more forms of communication.

Tips to Make your Parenting Plan Work for Your Child(ren)

  • Use a calendar. Place it where the child can easily see it or access it. Make sure to notate your child’s schedule by showing which house the child will be at on any given day. Also notate schedules such as sports, doctor’s appointments, school activities, and vacations away from home. Remember, it’s just as important that your child knows what to expect during their week as it is for you and the other parent. Children do best when things are clear.
  • Watch your child. Nobody knows your child like you do. Give them time to adjust to the new routine just as you will need the same time for adjustment. If it seems they are not doing well, talk to the other parent and try to find a way to make things better.
  • Carve out time and listen to your child. Ask “open-ended” questions such as, “How do you feel about…….” Check in periodically by asking what they need from you. Sometimes they just want to feel like they are being heard and often they might want to feel like they have a little bit of control over the changes. This may mean offering to let the child spend some extra non-custodial time with the other parent, such as dinner or it could mean they would like to spend the night at a friend’s house. Try to not take such requests personally because they want to feel some sense of normalcy just as much as you do.
  • Make sure that they know unequivocally that the divorce or separation is not their fault.

Whether you are on the path of co-parenting or parallel parenting please remember that a child’s inherent desire is to love and be loved by both parents without feeling guilt. They have the right not to pick sides and to have their voices heard by both parents without feeling shame. Let our attorneys at Vandyk Law carefully draft a child-sharing plan that gives your family the best possible start for success. Call us today at (707) 528-1100 for a complimentary consultation.

Does the Court Consider My Child’s Wishes When Creating a Custody and Visitation Order?

If a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, the court shall consider, and give due weight to, the wishes of the child in making an order granting or modifying custody or visitation. If the child is 14 years of age or older and wishes to address the court regarding custody or visitation, the child shall be permitted to do so, unless the court determines that doing so is not in the child’s best interests. In that case, the court shall state its reasons for that finding on the record, Family Code 3042(a)(b).

Contact Parenting Plan Attorney Carolyn Vandyk

Coming up with a parenting plan can be stressful and a burden if the other side is not willing to work out an agreement. When you are faced with this situation contact our attorneys at Vandyk Law and speak with a Santa Rosa parenting plan lawyer. Call today and receive a confidential consultation, call (707) 528-1100.