If you have children, they are probably the most important part of your life. This makes child custody (which includes making legal decisions for the children and how the time with the children is shared between the parents) a potentially frightening part of any divorce proceedings. It’s easy to get emotional when you think about losing time with your kids. Decisions regarding your parenting time will have an impact on the rest of your life.
Child custody decisions will never be easy or comfortable. However, if you are willing to work together with your spouse, you can find a solution for parenting time that works. A collaborative divorce can relieve some of the pressure by ensuring that both spouse’s perspective is considered and the children’s “voice” is part of the process.
Parenting Time for Each of You
Child custody choices do not have to be all or nothing. Talk to your future co-parent about what makes sense. You want to be fair to each other and the kids.
Part of child custody decision-making requires understanding how your schedules can work together. Consider family traditions you’d like to continue. Maybe you like to go up north for a family reunion every summer. Maybe your co-parent likes to take a vacation with the kids over winter break. Work with your attorney to include those details in your final legal agreement.
Children may have activities that one or both of you wish to attend. Maybe your kids want you both at every event. Maybe they’d prefer you take turns for a while. Balance your time with what your kids need.
Fitting all of this together can feel like a puzzle. Take your time to work through all of the issues involved. Collaborative divorce can help you work together to find agreements that can make divorce less stressful.
Making Decisions for the Child
Child custody decisions include more than what house the kids are sleeping at on which days. You should also consider legal decision making. How will the child’s school be selected? Who will decide about religious education? Do you need to consult with your former spouse before seeking medical care? Your divorce professional can help you know what to include in your custody agreement.
There will be times you do not agree. If you fought about parenting decisions during your marriage, it will not get any easier after divorce. Be ready to discuss all of this during your meetings to work out a settlement agreement you can viably live with post-Decree. If you disagree, you will need to find a way to resolve the disputes. A communication coach can help teach you valuable skills to use during and after your divorce.
Finally, you should lay out plans for emergencies. At some point, your child may need urgent treatment. Legal decision-making plans should include exceptions for the times you can’t wait to discuss the matter with the other parent.
What the Child Wants
In the midst of your divorce proceedings, it is easy to focus on yourself. When making child custody decisions, remember to consider your kids first. They may have holiday celebrations they enjoy with a particular parent. They may be more comfortable switching back and forth on regular days, so they have some consistency in their living arrangement. If you get too caught up in your own agreement, you can forget to factor in the children’s needs.
Making decisions about child custody can be one of the most exhausting parts of a divorce. Working out plans for your children can be complicated. However, if you work together, you can reach decisions that will help you, your co-parent and your children move forward. Contact Best Legal Choices today for help making decisions about child custody.