For parents, there is usually one thing that takes precedence above all other matters during divorce — their children. California state law addresses how parents should handle child custody, including what should be included in a parenting plan. California is also compliant with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which fosters and promotes legal cooperation in regard to interstate child custody matters.

The most important factor in child custody is the child’s best interests. Since two children are alike, custody agreements will vary greatly from family to family. Other important factors include a child’s age, emotional ties — including to community and school — health, history of abuse or neglect and more. Additional factors may be considered based on unique or individual situations.

Parents will have to create a parenting plan as part of child custody proceedings. The parenting plan should include the custody details, such as how physical and legal custody will be split. However, just because two parents work together to create a parenting plan does not mean that a judge will approve it. Unless the plan reflects the child’s best interests, a judge can reject the plan and require parents to work on a new one.

Since circumstances change over time, a child custody agreement that was applicable in the past may no longer be appropriate. Either parent can file a request with the court to modify a current custody. However, whether creating a new parenting plan or going back to change an old one, the end result should always be the child’s best interests. If a parent is struggling to reach an agreeable custody plan with his or her partner, it may be advisable to seek guidance from an experienced California attorney.