A Family Law Mediator’s Guide to Successful Co-Parenting Plans

Divorce is a significant life transition. While change can seem scary and daunting at first, change is also a beautiful catalyst for growth.

Modern families, “blended” families, represent a shift in the paradigm of the traditional family. While traditional perspectives of divorce may be tinged with sadness, a refreshing and contemporary outlook offers hope. The end of marriage is not the end-all for a child’s happiness. Successful co-parenting plans are the roadmap to helping your child thrive throughout a fresh evolution to family dynamics.

The courts mandate that co-parenting plans encompass details of custody and parenting time with the best interests of the child in mind. Practicality of the plan given each child’s academic and social commitments, as well as the capacities and obligations of each parent, must be carefully considered. California courts recommend parents seek professional mediation, given that mediation can be both more efficient and amicable than litigation in resolving all matters of divorce. 

Mediation is the discussion and negotiation of divorce terms between both parties, directly under the guidance of a neutral facilitator, within the confidentiality and privacy of your mediator’s office.

Physical Custody: Your Child’s Living Arrangements

Physical custody determines where the child will primarily reside. 

Environment plays a crucial role in a child’s development, and the court will intervene with an order if parents cannot reach an agreement on child custody arrangements. Factors considered include the age, physical and mental health of the child, emotional bonds with each parent and the local community, including their schoolmates and peers.

Legal Custody: Your Child’s Welfare

Legal custody encompasses parental rights and responsibilities regarding the child’s healthcare, education, and other crucial matters of welfare. 

Co-parenting plans must address legal custody, which includes decisions about schooling and child care. Additionally, co-parenting plans must cover whether and how religion or spirituality will be incorporated into the child’s life. Medical care, mental health care, dentistry, orthodontic care, and all other healthcare considerations must be part of these plans. Moreover, co-parenting plans should detail if and how children will participate in sports, recreational activities, or extracurricular activities.

Visitation: Holidays, Vacations, And Special Occasions

Visitation, or parenting time, refers to the rights of when and how the non-custodial parent spends time with their child. 

The California Courts urge parents to confirm schedules in advance while reasonably accommodating changes. Furthermore, parents should consider if they wish to arrange for supervised visitation, which may be ordered by a judge if there are safety concerns due to history of mental issues, substance abuse, or allegations of abuse. 

While holiday plans are an elective topic in a co-parenting plan, it is best to discuss holiday scheduling during mediation to ensure future clarity and to avoid conflicts during joyous times. Visitation in a co-parenting plan should specify where the child will spend birthdays and major holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Fourth of July, and other significant occasions. A mediator with the skills of Colleen McNamee can be invaluable in advising parents on the language of the co-parenting plan. For instance, a flexibility clause whereby plans are adhered to as set forth “unless mutually agreed otherwise by the parties,” will logistically allow for mutually agreed-upon changes without violating court orders.

Vacations are also an elective topic that should nevertheless be pro-actively discussed in mediation. Any adult who has traveled with children, especially those of a young age, knows that the experience alone demands attention and time. Given that travel is time-intensive in both planning and execution, it is most productive for parents to proactively and collaboratively decide how they will allocate ample time for travel throughout the year. This approach ensures minimal disruption to their education, making the most of summer, spring, and winter breaks.

Mediation For Co-Parenting Plans 

McNamee Mediations fosters neutral and open discussions between parents, prioritizing the well-being of their children. Child-centric family mediation, facilitated by Colleen McNamee of McNamee Mediations, guides parents through the mutual cooperation of crafting a comprehensive and thorough co-parenting plan. A truly effective co-parenting plan extends beyond its purpose as a legal agreement; it serves to foster a healthy and stable transition for children after their parents’ divorce.

We offer on-going, post-settlement support and resources, including co-parenting reading recommendations, and continued mediation sessions if needed. We also offer recommendations from our network of trusted family/individual/co-parenting therapists, child psychologists, and mental health professionals for families that may require additional support. 

If you have any questions about our mediation services, give McNamee Mediations a call today to explore child custody and co-parenting solutions. 

Call Us Today: +1 (949) 223-3836

E-Mail Us: mmediations@msn.com