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Setting Up A Parenting Plan
Child Custody Parenting Plan (Visitation)
A parenting plan for visitation is typically set up for the noncustodial parent. Section 1.11 of California Child Custody Litigation and Practice provides, “A parent awarded visitation is deemed a ‘noncustodial’ parent if it is clear that the other party exercises the role of physical custodian. It is not uncommon to see ‘visitation’ rights awarded in conjunction with a joint physical custody arrangement.”
When Custody or Visitation Issues May Arise
The court has jurisdiction in actions for marital dissolution, legal separation, and nullity of marriage for orders pertaining to minor children of the marriage. Grandparents and other third parties may also assert a right to custody or visitation. Non-married parents may also want to obtain court orders — get something in writing to cement their parenting agreement.
In this article, I am going to talk about the reasonableness standard of visitation. When parents seek a court order for a parenting plan, it is important to understand the effect of selecting the “reasonable” box on the court form. The California Judicial Council provides pre-printed court forms to help parents with setting up visitation. Some parents get along pretty well and have been agreeable in sharing parenting time with their children. Setting up a plan for alternate weekends, holidays and vacations have been mutually agreed upon in the past. So, they think it should be pretty easy maintaining their expectations.
Selecting the Best Visitation Plan
To obtain a court order, a Petition for Child Custody and Visitation or a Request for Order for Child Custody and Visitation may be prepared and filed with the court to open the case. Either parent may write their own parenting plan. Both parents may be in agreement and file a Stipulation with the court. The Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Plan) Application Attachment includes days and times for visitation. It also includes supervised visitation, transportation to/from the visit, and other options.
Some agreeable parents decide to use the attachment to set up their parenting plan. But, instead of writing in the days and times, they check the box for Reasonable right of parenting time. By checking this box, they believe that they will continue to be “reasonable” (i.e, in agreement).
When “Reasonable” Becomes “Unreasonable”
What happens when one parent’s reasonableness standard changes and is no longer consistent with the other parent’s expectations? There is conflict. Issues arise. Heated arguments follow. Angry texting and communication fails. Threats are made. The parenting plan no longer works.
Below are some real-life parenting issues from some of my clients. Maybe you relate.
- Your grandparents are in town and want to see their grand kids, but the other parent already made plans with the kids.
- His family lives in another state or country and he wants to take the children home for a visit and doesn’t know for how long.
- It’s your birthday and you want your kids to be with you, but your Ex already made plans with the kids.
- You don’t like the other parent’s new girl/boyfriend and you believe she/he is a bad influence on your children.
- The other parent has a drug or alcohol addiction and you no longer feel it is safe for your children to be in the same car.
- You got a new job that is an hour away so you decide to move closer to your job but the other parent threatens you that it’s too far for visits.
- You want to change schools for your child so it will be closer to your home, which is further away from the other parent’s home.
- The other parent doesn’t like your new spouse so they have changed their mind about visitation times.
There are any number of reasons why your parenting plan may not be working for you. If you checked the “reasonable” box and visitation is no longer working, then it may be time to revisit your parenting plan. You can go back to court to try to modify the current order.
If you need to set up a parenting plan, consider selecting specific dates/times, holidays and special occasions in advance so that there are no misunderstandings or accusations that the other parent is not being reasonable.
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