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Parenting plans for exes: Is the devil in the details?

"Good fences make good neighbors," Robert Frost famously wrote in his poem "Mending Wall."

To be sure, Frost wasn't writing about parents who split up and have to figure out how to share time with the kids. But it is fair to ask whether an overly detailed parenting plan is a little like the wall in Frost's poem: walling in the parties in overly limiting ways.

In this post, then, we will ask this question: How detailed should a parenting plan in California be?

Whether you and your ex were married or not, you will need a parenting plan that governs who has the kids when. Sometimes one parent will have sole physical custody. This can happen, for example, when domestic violence is involved.

In most cases, however, you and your spouse will be coparents. The idea is that children are better off when they maintain a close relationship with both parents. That is why joint custody is the preferred arrangement in California courts.

But how specific should you and your ex be in working out the details of a plan for being coparents?

Some commentators contend that very detailed plans are preferable. For example, a recent contributor to the widely-read Huffington Post divorce blog asserts that a parenting plan should have as much clarity as possible.

Of course, a lot depends on how amicable your dealings with your ex are. If you are on good terms, nailing down every conceivable scenario may not be necessary.

And this leads us back to the imagery of the mending wall. "We keep the wall between us as we go," Frost's narrator says of his interactions with his wall-minded neighbor.

The written agreement you work out with your ex is like the mending wall. When minor children are involved, you'll still have to deal with each other, even after you divorce or end your cohabitation. But you'll be doing so with the parenting plan to fall back on as a key reference point for resolving any issues that arise

A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through this process and help you carve out your respective boundaries on either side of the wall.

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