While there is a stereotype that divorced fathers do not spend enough time with their children, many fathers care very much about this. A California father who is concerned about custody and visitation might think ahead of time about what he might propose whether it is sole custody or some kind of joint or shared custody. He should also be able to communicate either in negotiations with the spouse or in court why he is asking for this particular arrangement. While the arrangement must account for the parents’ work obligations, ultimately the court will be looking for one that is in the best interests of the child.
Parents must also work out a parenting plan. This plan may address a number of issues such as how parents will communicate with one another about the children, how they will stay informed about the child’s health and education and who will be in charge of certain extracurricular activities.
A successful parenting plan should have flexibility built in for changes over time as the child gets older and the situation of the parents changes. For example, parents might want to consider how they may do things differently if one of them remarries. Dropoffs and pickups for visitation may be moved to a new location away from home that makes the new spouse more comfortable.
Ideally, with a good parenting plan in place and good conflict resolution skills, parents will not need to return to court. However, there are some changes that may require this. For example, if one parent decides to relocate and this will cause a change in custody, the parent may need to get permission from the court as well as a child custody modification. If there is a significant decrease in the income of the parent paying child support, that parent may request a modification of the amount.