Child custody arrangements are often one of the most complex aspects of divorce. Parents must consider the best interests of their children and often work together to reach an agreement that will satisfy both sides.
During the custody process, it is crucial to be civil with your ex and avoid badmouthing him or her in front of the judge. It can cause unnecessary stress and hurt your chances of winning custody.
Prioritize the Best Interests of the Children
Arrangements for child custody are a crucial part of a divorce but can also be one of the most emotionally taxing aspects. Parents must focus on what is best for their children during this time. It may involve setting aside their differences to reach a child custody arrangement or working with a family law attorney to help them devise an arrangement.
When deciding on custody arrangements, a judge will consider various issues, but the best approach to give your children priority is to demonstrate your dedication to them, which can be effectively presented with the assistance of a knowledgeable child custody lawyer who can advocate for your parental rights and articulate your commitment to your children’s well-being.
A judge will also consider a parent’s relationship with their children and how well they know them. It could lead to the judge limiting visitation with an abusive parent to protect the child from further harm. Be careful who you bring into court, and always present yourself professionally.
Do not Make Promises You Cannot Keep
While focusing on the children’s best interests is essential, you should also avoid making promises that may prove impossible. For instance, if you are planning to start dating someone new soon after your divorce, you should not make any plans with that person involving the kids. You could violate a custody agreement or court order, leading to significant consequences.
One of the main issues involved in a divorce is determining the terms of a custody and visitation agreement. It is typically done through mediation, which is often ordered by a judge or pursued voluntarily by both parties. It is crucial to maintain open and respectful communication throughout the process so that you can negotiate an arrangement that is beneficial for everyone involved.
In many cases, parents are granted some form of joint physical custody. This arrangement involves each parent having a substantial amount of parenting time, which can be divided differently depending on the situation. For example, in a bird’s nest custody scenario, the child might live with one parent for several days or weeks, rotating while the other parent lives with them for the rest of the week.
Try to Avoid Parental Alienation
Parental alienation is a form of emotional manipulation that causes a child to reject a parent. It is often the result of a high-conflict divorce or separation, and it can do long-term damage to both the child and the rejected parent. Parental alienators use various tactics, including badmouthing the other parent and interfering with visitation arrangements. They can also make false allegations of abuse or neglect, which can have serious legal consequences for the accused party.
If you are concerned that your spouse is engaging in parental alienation, you must talk to your family law attorney. It is also crucial to keep in contact with your child, even if they do not respond. Send them letters or emails and call them to speak with them. Avoid raising your voice or having heated conversations in front of them. Instead, have these discussions in a neutral location, such as a coffee shop or a mutual friend’s house.
If you have joint physical custody, follow the court’s visitation schedule. If you are worried that your co-parent is not following the court’s orders, ask your attorney about requesting sanctions against them.
Make a Plan for College Costs
Divorce can be stressful, but children are often the most brutal hit. During the holidays, they may need to transition between two homes, potentially feeling conflicting sentiments and emotional stresses. A plan can help parents navigate child custody arrangements and reduce the season’s stress.
One option is to choose a bird’s nest custody arrangement where the children live in one central location, and parents rotate in and out on a set schedule. This arrangement can be more straightforward for kids, but it can also be expensive for both parents. If you choose this option, make a plan for college costs that will be beyond what your child support payments cover. Consider opening a custodial account or an Education Savings Account (similar to a 529).
It is also helpful for parents to record all expenses associated with their children. It can be a financial tool for tracking what expenses were covered by child support payments and avoiding future disputes.
Do not Be Afraid to Hire an Attorney
There are several types of child custody: sole physical custody (where the children reside in one home) and joint physical custody (where the children split time between the parents’ homes). There is also legal custody when either parent or both have the right to make significant decisions about the child’s upbringing.
Regardless of which type of custody you seek, you should be bold in hiring an attorney. A lawyer can assist you in agreeing with your spouse and understanding your options. If your ex-spouse disregards your parenting schedule or violates the conditions of your divorce settlement, your lawyer can also help.
Many custody disputes are resolved through mediation before they reach the courtroom. When parents can work together to develop a reasonable parenting arrangement, judges will usually give it significant weight. A judge may need to intervene when a child custody dispute cannot be resolved through mediation. In this case, a judge will issue a temporary child custody order based on the children’s best interests.