Child Visitation (“Timeshare”):

A parenting plan, also called a “custody and visitation agreement” or a “time-share plan,” is the parent’s written agreement about how much time the child will spend with each parent, and how the parents will make decisions about the child’s welfare and education. Learn what you should think about when deciding on a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your child, what should be in your parenting plan, and how to write up your parenting plan.

A parenting plan, also called a “custody and visitation agreement,” is the parents’ written agreement about:

  • Time-share: A schedule for when the children will be with each parent; and
  • Decision-making: How the parents will make decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children.

With a written plan, you and your children will know what to expect and will have fewer conflicts about shared parenting time.

Your parenting plan becomes a court order after it is signed by both of you, signed by the judge, and filed with the court.  Make a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your children. When both parents are active in their children’s lives and do not fight over custody and visitation schedules, the children will usually do much better. Change is hard for children.

When thinking about a parenting plan, here are some things for you to consider:

  • Meet your children’s basic needs for:
    • Love, protection, and guidance,
    • A healthy diet,
    • Good medical care, and
    • Enough rest.
  • Consider your children’s ages, personalities, experiences, and abilities. Every child is different. Adjust your plan to your children, NOT your children to your plan.
  • Give your children regular, consistent times with each of you for day-to-day care, overnights, activities, schoolwork, vacations, and holidays. Use a calendar to help you.
  • Give your plan enough detail so it is easy to understand and enforce.
  • Give your children a sense of security and a reliable routine.

Also, be flexible. For example, if a child is not feeling well when it is time to go to the other parent’s house, think about what would be best for your child. Clearly, the age of the child and the seriousness of the illness need to be taken into account. Also, the distance between the 2 homes will be a major factor in decisionmaking. Some parents use the standard that if the child is well enough to go to school, he or she is well enough to move from 1 home to another. However, deciding whether a child should go to school or not is often difficult, so that standard is not too helpful.

Except in cases of abuse or violence, your parenting plan should have make sure that:

  • Both parents can have information about the children.
  • Both parents can call the children.
  • Both parents can look at the children’s medical and school records.
  • Each parent can have the other parent’s address and phone numbers and other contact information (like e-mail).

Keep in mind that the particular needs of your children will vary depending on many factors. We do not know how long young children can go without seeing either parent, how many transitions children can handle, or how long children should stay in each household. We do know that children can get attached to caregivers when they have good relationships that are consistent over time.  In many instances, it may make sense for infants and toddlers to be able to see each parent regularly, especially if a child is safe with either parent. Younger children’s concept of time is different from that of older children, and they often need more consistency. It is generally a good idea to have a regular schedule and stick to it. Most children benefit from having a routine they can count on. When you make a schedule, think about the quality of the relationships. Not just the relationship between the children and each parent, but also between the parents and between the children and any other caregivers. Click to learn more about the needs of children of different ages.

Contact the Law Office of Craig A. Darling

At the Law Office of Craig A. Darling, you will find an experienced child custody attorney who is dedicated to the best possible outcome for his clients and their children. Attorney Darling has been working for his family law clients for more than a decade. He serves Orange County as well as surrounding counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Contact him at (949) 222-5522.