California family law requires divorced or separated parents to follow a parenting plan. Parents are encouraged to work out the details of the plan together, possibly with help from a mediator or attorneys. A parenting plan may require modification as the children’s needs and the parents’ circumstances change.
Changes requiring modification
The law requires parents to provide their children with food, shelter, adequate sleep, education and healthcare. Other details of parenting are subjective and must be agreed upon by the parents. As the needs of families change, some of these conditions should be reviewed for possible modification:
Removal of supervision — If the court ordered supervised visitation and there has been a significant shift in the relationship between the child and a parent, the parents can agree to lift the supervision requirement. The child is not allowed to make any decisions regarding supervision, but older children’s input may be considered.
Readiness for sleepovers — A child who was very young when the parents divorced might not have been ready to sleep at the second parent’s home. After a period of adjustment to the new situation and a bit of maturation, a child may benefit from the parenting plan being changed to include midweek and weekend sleepovers.
Change of work or school schedule — The parenting plan might need to be modified to reflect schedule changes for either the parent or the child. When transitioning to a new school or job, it is helpful to have some flexibility in the schedule to allow for an adjustment period.
Change in developmental needs — A child transitioning into early adolescence might need a different type of parenting arrangement. The additional demands of school, sports or weekend activities might necessitate more midweek sharing. The emotional challenges of the teen years should be shared and managed by both parents whenever possible.
Ideally, parents should be flexible and generous with their parenting time.