One of the most important aspects of divorce is agreeing upon a plan for minor children. The plan should provide consistency and be determined based on the needs of the children. When the details are agreed upon, documented and signed by both parents and the judge, the plan will be filed with the court system to become a court order.
Elements of the parenting plan, or custody and visitation agreement, should include a schedule detailing when the children will be with each parent and specifics regarding how decisions affecting the children will be managed. Routine is a critical component of any parenting plan. Current childcare situations should be considered to avoid unnecessary change, and younger children may need more frequent visitation because their concept of time is generally different from teens’ concept of time.
Parents who are active in their children’s lives and work to agree on custody and visitation make the transitions easier on the children. The courts will put the safety and best interests of the children above all other details. If there are any abuse or addiction issues related to either parent, the plan should have elements in place specifying any limitations as well as any necessary treatments that will benefit the parent-child relationship.
Laws for custody, visitation and child support vary from state to state. Proper documentation and filing are critical to ensure the best possible outcome for the children. California provides a parenting plan outline and additional forms to help parents make the best decisions regarding their children. A family law lawyer can ensure that all necessary documents are completed in the proper manner and that no important details are overlooked.
Grandparents in California might run into a situation where they feel they need to petition a court to mandate visitation with a grandchild. While California law allows grandparents to petition for this, it can only be filed if certain conditions are met.
First, the court needs to determine if the visitation is in the best interest of the grandchild. For this to happen, it must be shown that the grandparents and the grandchild had a pre-existing relationship and that a bond had formed between them. The court also needs to balance the best interest of the child in having visitations with the grandparents and the right of the child’s parents to make decisions affecting their child.
Second, under California family law, a petition for visitation with a grandchild cannot be filed if the grandchild’s parents are married unless the case meets one of five exceptions. These exceptions include a parent joining the grandparents in the petition, the parents living separately, the whereabouts of one parent being unknown for at least a month, a child being adopted by a stepparent and a child who is not living with the parents.
It is usually recommended that families attempt to resolve visitation issues outside of court, even with the help of a mediator. However, if this is not possible, grandparents have two ways under which they can file the petition. One way is to file a petition under an open case related to a child, such as in a divorce, a child custody case, a child support case or even a domestic violence case involving a restraining order. If there is no open case, the grandparents can file to open one. While there are no official state forms to ask for visitations, some of the local courts have created their own forms for this purpose.