Child Custody and Divorce Lawyer in Los Angeles


Sample physical custody plans

Some states have developed model parenting plans that take into account what is appropriate for
children of different ages and stages of development. The Oregon Judicial Department and the
Supreme Court for the State of Arizona have both developed model parenting plans for Parents that
suggest different parenting plan options.

The following samples are based on those parenting plans.

Birth to 12 months – two evenings a week and Saturdays

Sample Language:

Commencing on _________, Parent A shall have physical custody of the minor child(ren) each week on
Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 pm. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Parent A
shall be responsible for picking up and dropping of the minor child(ren) at the residence of Parent B.
Parent B shall have physical custody of the minor child(ren) at all other times not designated as Parent
A’s time.

Comments:

At this young age, infants form a primary attachment to one parent and long periods of absence from
the primary attachment figure may be traumatic. Parents should minimize the infant’s basic sleep,
feeding and waking cycles.

Pre-schooler 3 – 5 years

The parties alternate weekends and the non-custodial parent has one or more overnights during the
week.

Sample Language:

A.         Commencing on ___________, Parent A shall have physical custody of the minor child(ren)
alternate weekends from Friday, after the end of school/child care/camp (or at 5:30 p.m. if the child(ren)
are not in school/child care/camp), when Parent A shall pick up the child(ren) from school/child
care/camps, or at Parent B’s residence if the child(ren) are not in school/child care, until Monday, at the
start of school/child care (or at 8:00 a.m. if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp), when
Parent A shall drop the minor child(ren) off at school/child care/camp or at Parent B’s residence if the
child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp.        
B.        Commencing on ____________, Parent A shall have physical custody of the minor child(ren)
each week from Wednesday, after the end of school/child care camp (or at 5:30 p.m. if the child(ren)
are not in school/child care/camp), when Parent A shall pick up the child(ren) from school/child
care/camp, or at Parent B’s residence if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp, until Thursday,
at the start of school/child care/camp(or at 8:00 a.m. if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp),
when Parent A shall drop the minor child(ren) off at school/child care/camp or at Parent B’s residence if
the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp.
C.        Parent B shall have physical custody of the minor child(ren) at all other times not designated as
Parent A’s time.

*          Instead of referring to alternate weekends, a plan can refer to 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of the
month. This generally avoids any confusion about which parents has custody on any given weekend.

Comments:

This plan is sometimes referred to a “Freeman” order. It may be suitable where Parent B has not been
very involved in the day to day care of the child and has a busy work schedule. Three to five year olds
may show increased anxiety moving between parent’s homes. This does not necessarily reflect on
whether the other parent is not a good parent or does not want to be with the other parent. Depending
on the maturity of the child and the practicality of the exchanges these times can be negotiated so that
Parent A only has the child one or two evenings in the week and has shorter or longer weekends.

“2:2:3”  Joint Physical Custody for older children

The parties alternate weekends and each parent has the children two days in the week.

Sample Language:

A.        Commencing on __________, Parent A shall have physical custody of the minor child(ren) each
week from Monday, at the start of school/child care/camp (or at 8:00 a.m. if the child(ren) are not in
school/child care/camp), when Parent B shall drop the minor child(ren) off at school/child care/camp, or
at Parent A’s residence if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp, subject to paragraph C
below, until Wednesday, at the start of school/child care/camp (or at 8:00 a.m. if the child(ren) are not in
school/child care/camp), when Parent A shall drop the minor child(ren) off at school/child care/camp or
at Parent B’s residence if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp.
B.        Commencing on __________, Parent B shall have physical custody of the minor child(ren) each
week from Wednesday, at the start of school/child care/camp (or at 8:00 a.m. if the child(ren) are not in
school/child care/camp), when Parent A shall drop the child(ren) off at school/child care/camp or at
Parent B’s residence if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp, until Friday, at the start of
school/child care/camp (or at 8:00 a.m. if the children are not in school/child care/camp), when Parent B
shall drop the child(ren) off at school/child care/camp or at Parent A’s residence if the child(ren) are not
in school/child care/camp, subject to paragraph C below.
C.        The parties shall alternate physical custody of the minor child(ren) during the weekends, from
Friday, at the start the start of school (or at 8:00 a.m. if the children are not in school), until their return
to school on Monday (or at 8:00 a.m. if the children are not in school) when the children shall be
returned to their respective school or to the receiving parent’s residence, in the event the children are
not in school.

Comments:  

The child spends no longer than three days/nights away from either parent.


“2:2:5:5”   Joint Physical Custody For Older Children

The parties alternate two and five day periods with the children. Each parent has two consecutive
midweek overnights each week and alternate the weekends.

Sample Language:

A.        In Week 1, commencing ________, Parent A shall have physical custody of the minor child(ren)
each week from Monday, at the start of school/child care/camp (or at 8:00 a.m. if the child(ren) are not
in school/child care/camp), when Parent B shall drop the minor child(ren) off at school/child care/camp,
or at Parent A’s residence if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp, until Wednesday, at the
start of school/child care/camp (or at 8:00 a.m. if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp), when
Parent A shall drop the minor child(ren) off at school/child care/camp or at Parent B’s residence if the
child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp.
B.        In Week 1 and 2, commencing ________, Parent A shall have physical custody of the minor child
(ren) on Friday, after the end of school/child care/camp (or at 5:30 p.m. if the child(ren) are not in
school/child care/camp), when Parent A shall pick up the child(ren) from school/child care/camps, or at
Parent B’s residence if the child(ren) are not in school/child care, until the following Wednesday, at the
start of school/child care (or at 8:00 a.m. if the child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp), when
Parent A shall drop the minor child(ren) off at school/child care/camp or at Parent B’s residence if the
child(ren) are not in school/child care/camp:
C.         After the conclusion of Week 2, the two week rotation shall commence again with the physical
custody schedule set forth above for Week 1.
B.        Parent B shall have custody of the children at all times not designated as  Parent A’s time.

Comments:

The works better for well adjusted children who have a good attachment to both parents. It allows for
joint physical custody but each child is only away from the non-custodial parent for five days.


Alternating Weeks -  Joint Physical Custody

Sample Language:

Commencing __________, and on alternate weeks thereafter, Parent A shall have physical custody of
the minor child(ren) from Monday at the start of school/child care/camp, or from 12:00 noon if the child
(ren) are not in school/child care/camp, until Parent A returns the child(ren) to school the following
Monday at the commencement of school, or 12:00 noon if the child(ren) is not in school/child
care/camp, when Parent A shall return the child(ren) to Parent B’s residence. Parent B shall have
custody of the child(ren) at all other times.
Comments:  

The children may need to have mid-week contact with the non-custodial parent. This schedule can be
altered to provide for a mid-week evening or overnight with the non-custodial parent.

Step up Plans

A frequently encountered problem is that a plan you develop now may not necessarily be appropriate in
the future. For example, a plan for young children which permits the non-custodial parent limited
overnights may not be appropriate when the children are older. A court may not be willing to change the
status quo simply because the children have grown up and are better able to transition between
households. One way of dealing with this is to create a “step-up plan” that provides increased periods
of custody to the non-custodial parent when the children reach a certain age.

Step-up plans are particularly useful in reaching settlements where there are concerns about the
parenting abilities of the non-custodial parent or the psychological harm that moving between two
households will have on a child. Step up plans foster a sense of trust, responsibility and reliability as the
non-custodial parent and the children familiarize themselves with the new routines and new households.

Step up plans are also useful to encourage parental responsibility where there are substance abuse
problems or visitation has to be monitored because a parent has endangered the child. These step up
plans should be drafted to allow the non-custodial parent increased time when they have met specific
goals e.g. they have remained clean and sober for six months.

Holidays

It is common for parents to alternate holidays each year with one parent having a holiday in even years
and the other having it in odd years. Many holidays are celebrated on a Monday and parents elect to
extend the previous weekend. However, if you have a parenting plan which provides for switching
custody on alternate weekends you will have to decide whether the weekend or the holiday schedule
take precedence.

Typical holidays and special days include Mothers/Fathers day, Memorial Day, children’s birthdays, July
4th, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, parent’s birthdays and family
reunions. Jewish holidays may include Passover, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. In deciding on issues
relating to holidays, form
"Children’s Holiday Schedule" FL-341 (C) which has been approved by the
Judicial Council of California is helpful. It can be found at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/forms/  

During the winter vacation many parents elect to divide the winter vacation. Since the midway point may
or may not include Christmas Eve and Christmas Day parents may also elect to split these days.  

During the summer recess many parents provide that either parent may have the children for two or
three continuous weeks provided that they give each other sufficient notice in advance of their plans. If
their plans conflict one parent’s choice prevails in odd years and the other parent’s choice prevails in
even years.




Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney at Law Offices of Warren R. Shiell to discuss your
custody issues.
Please call to make an appointment at 310.247.9913.


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