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Creating a workable parenting plan

California couples who are divorcing may need to co-parent for years to come if they have young children. In fact, cooperating as parents doesn't necessarily end when a child reaches 18. While adult children may no longer need parenting, if they have children themselves, there may still be negotiation ahead. If parents can establish a co-parenting relationship early on, then they might set the stage for a more peaceful lifetime with their children and grandchildren.

A parenting plan has several components. Legal custody is related to decisions about issues such as the child's school and health and is usually shared. Physical custody deals with the actual amount of time the child spends with each parent. A parenting plan may deal with how children will spend vacations and holidays as well as provisions for changes such as one parent moving away.

There are ways of designing a parenting plan that may make it more successful. A detailed plan demonstrates to others that the parents take it seriously, creates a path to resolving conflicts and puts agreements in writing to avoid either parent later trying to contradict a verbal agreement. A thorough parenting plan gives parents the opportunity to anticipate any difficulties and deal with them. It may also keep them on track if changes are desired and make mediation possible rather than litigation.

Mediation might also be better than litigation as parents establish the initial parenting plan. If parents can work together rather than having their differences settled in what may be a more acrimonious courtroom, they might set the stage for better conflict resolution in the future as well. Attorneys might be able to assist the couple in reaching an agreement that works for their particular situation as well as their child's needs.

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