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Child custody and parenting plans in the real world

Having spent some time last week on our Tustin family law blog discussing the components of a parenting plan, let's look at how parents can make the parenting plan work for their families out in the real world. The information is intended to be general in nature only, not specific legal advice.

First, some tips on sticking to the plan you created together. Each parent should have a calendar up somewhere where they can easily see it showing the schedule of who will have child custody on which days. This will help avoid mistakes and miscommunications. Each parent should also help the child adjust to the new schedule by listening and trying to find ways to show support, even if the child is having trouble or doesn't like certain things about the change.

Next, we should also talk about how to handle times when the parenting plan doesn't work as well as you thought it would. Parents will need to communicate with each other to try to address the issues, and this can be difficult. It can help to pretend you are dealing with a co-worker -- someone with whom you need to be polite and in control of your emotions in order to accomplish an objective.

Remember that when children get sick, communication between parents becomes even more important. You may need to review with the other parent what the child's activities were before coming to your home. Parents may also need to work together to track medications and dosing, as well as share information about doctor's visits.

Illness is one instance in which parenting time may need to be adjusted. It may even be necessary to modify a parenting plan permanently, particularly as children grow older. These may be changes that parents can work through together, but a mediator or family law professional can also assist with the process.

Parenting plans should be reasonable and sustainable, so that both parents are able to abide to them. Through open communication and flexibility, parents can address any issues that come up in the future regarding the parenting plan.

Source: The Judicial Branch of California, "Parenting Plans," accessed Jan. 26, 2018

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