Parenting Time Tips for Newly Divorced Parents in California


Newly divorced parents often feel overwhelmed or confused by child custody arrangements, parenting time plans, and visitation orders because everything is so new and unfamiliar and California family laws can be difficult to interpret. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you should know that you can adapt to these changes, find ways to co-parent effectively, and stay focused on your child’s best interests. Whether you have concerns about summer vacation plans or questions about relocations, or want to know how to best support your child through post-divorce transitions like attending new schools, you’ll be ready for anything with time and knowledge.

Make Sure You Understand Your Child Custody Arrangement

For a newly divorced parent with questions about parenting time and related obligations, a good starting point is to fully review and understand your child custody agreement. This document outlines the legal expectations of child custody, like physical and legal custody, as well as detailed visitation schedules and responsibilities, which serve as the foundation for all parenting time decisions. Hiring a family law attorney can be incredibly helpful in this process; a legal professional can clarify any confusing terms, provide insights into the implications of the agreement, and offer guidance specific to your family's unique circumstances, so you no longer feel left in the dark about what the child custody arrangement requires.

What is Visitation After Divorce?

Visitation refers to the schedule established for the non-custodial parent to spend time with their child following a divorce. A visitation order is a legally binding document issued by the court that specifies the terms and conditions of this arrangement, including the frequency, duration, and specific times for visits. It is designed to allow the non-custodial parent to maintain a consistent and meaningful relationship with their child while also providing structure and predictability. However, visitation orders can sometimes create challenges and unexpected conflicts, especially when the interests of both parents don’t align.

Common challenges with visitation schedules are:

  • Conflicting schedules: Balancing work, school, and extracurricular activities with visitation times can be difficult to manage.
  • Geographical distance: Long distances between parents' homes can complicate regular visitation, leading to travel-related issues.
  • Lack of communication: Poor communication between parents can result in misunderstandings and disputes over visitation details.
  • Holiday scheduling: Deciding how to split holidays and special occasions can create additional tension and require cooperative negotiation or discussion.

Planning Summer Vacation as a Divorced Parent

After a divorce, summer vacation can look quite different for the entire family as new custody arrangements and parenting time plans come into play. Parents must now coordinate schedules carefully to make sure that both have adequate time with their children during the break, including enough time to plan a fun vacation, which could mean the children get two separate summer vacations.

Tips to make summer vacation work after divorce:

  • Plan early with the other parent: Start discussions well in advance to agree on dates and details, reducing last-minute conflicts and any plans that directly clash with court orders.
  • Make sure both parents can plan for a vacation: Give yourself and your ex-spouse or the other parent an opportunity to take the children on a trip, so the summer doesn’t feel one-sided.
  • Stay focused on your child's enjoyment of the vacation: Prioritize activities and destinations that your child will enjoy, making the most of the time spent together and creating positive memories. If your child goes on two summer vacations, one with each parent, you can consider highlighting that fact to make it seem more fun.

Relocation After Divorce: When Is It Allowed?

Relocation after a divorce as a parent is typically allowed if it is in the best interest of the child and complies with state laws, often requiring the relocating parent to provide notice to the other parent and seek court approval. By relocating with your child, your existing custody and visitation agreements will be impacted in one way or another, so an official modification through the court may be needed. You can talk to an attorney about how to request a modification and draft one that the court is likely to accept.

One quick tip for making relocation less stressful is to maintain open and honest communication with the other parent throughout the process. Don’t try to keep secrets, especially when doing so could disrupt your child’s happiness and feelings of stability. If you have your choices when relocating, talk to the other parent about the options, so you can find an amicable (and possibly literal) middle ground.

Address Your Child’s Concerns About New Schools

Addressing your child's concerns about going to a new school due to divorce-related changes like relocation can be crucial for their emotional well-being and academic success. This transition can be intimidating because it will involve adapting to a new environment, making new friends, and adjusting to different routines. By proactively addressing your child’s worries, you can help smooth this transition.

Keep in mind these tips to prepare your child for the transition of starting at a new school:

  • Visit the new school together: Familiarize your child with the new surroundings to reduce anxiety and build excitement. Most public schools allow you to tour the grounds during the summer if you call ahead and explain the situation.
  • Meet teachers before the semester starts: If possible, introduce your child to their new teachers before the semester starts. Some schools allow parent-teacher meetings during the summer, so it is worth checking if this is an option.
  • Encourage open discussions about their feelings: Create a safe space for your child to express their concerns and emotions about going to a new school. Shutting down any complaints could make them feel like the new situation is more hostile than welcoming.
  • Keep the other parent informed: If your child shows any concerns about going to a new school after your divorce, let the other parent know, assuming continued contact with them is safe or court-approved. Together, you can consider how to address the concerns and create a supportive environment for your child during this challenging time.

Prepare for Anything with Legal Help

Don’t think that you have to deal with post-divorce challenges like child custody complications on your own. You can always turn to a family law attorney for guidance and insight into how to move forward in a way that focuses on your child’s best interests. For the good people of Murrieta, Temecula, and Riverside County, California, that usually means coming to Law Office of Neda Aguirre, APC. Focused on integrity, honesty, and ethics, and led by Attorney Neda Aguirre, we’re proud to be considered a premier law firm by locals in need.

You can learn more about Law Office of Neda Aguirre, APC and our legal services by browsing our client testimonials, filling out an online contact form, or dialing (951) 977-4904.