Are you trying to come up with a fair custody arrangement? Read on for a complete guide on how to create a fair agreement.
Divying up valuable assets in a divorce such as cars or homes is difficult enough, but what about the most priceless thing two partners could ever share; a child?
There are over 12.9 million custodial parents in the US today. One of their most difficult tasks is creating a fair custody agreement where both sides are satisfied with terms such as visitation.
Read our child custody agreement guide for five tips.
1. Listen To Your Child
A child custody agreement must always begin with the child, no matter how old they are. Both parents should listen to them and ask how they feel about the process.
They also need to stay active in their child’s lives. Attend their:
- School conferences
- Parent-teacher conferences
If you’ve decided to move on and date again, it’s best to wait until the custody proceedings are over to introduce them. If they’re having a particularly difficult time, you may want to enroll them in therapy. They may not yet feel comfortable talking to you about it.
2. Speak Cleanly and Prepare for Disputes
One of the most frequently spread child custody tips is a simple one; don’t badmouth your ex. Keep it clean, in person and online.
Hearing this negative talk about a parent they love can be a dangerous and painful experience for your child. The court can also paint you as the villain using evidence such as your:
- Text messages
- Social media posts
There are steps you can take if your ex is badmouthing you online. Get legal representation if you need it to help their negative comments from hurting you and your child.
The term “custody battle” is proof of how vile the process can be. Even if one parent is on their best behavior, there will be a disagreement somewhere along the line. Designate another neutral third party to help you resolve these conflicts before they begin.
Pick your battles carefully during the proceedings. Important matters such as where they go to school and how often they see each parent may be worth fighting over. Smaller matters such as what they’re wearing need to be dropped.
3. Create a Personalized Arrangement
A fair custody arrangement is a personalized one. It needs to consider factors such as :
- The child’s age, personality, and extracurricular activities
- The family schedule
- The parents’ career and commitments
- Childcare arrangements
- The distance between each parent’s home
The best way to do that is to include every necessary detail and make sure that it fits your family. These include custody, visitation, and several other provisions.
Physical and Legal Custody
Custody is divided into two categories. Physical custody refers to who takes physical care of the child. This means basics such as giving them enough food, water, and housing.
Parental authority is another name for legal custody because it gives the parent the legal right to make major decisions for the child. Similar to physical custody, it doesn’t come in only one variety. You’ll have to work out who’s responsible for important areas such as their religious upbringing or education.
One of the most important components of physical custody is visitation. It determines when and how often each parent gets to have the child over at their house.
Solo is the rarer option, but it may be best for some families. The more popular option is joint visitation.
It typically accounts for 20% of parenting time, not including childcare or school. The most common options for joint visitation are 2-2-3, 2-2-5, and an alternate week plan.
You’ll also want to consider visitation on holidays, vacations, and other special occasions. This can be a more complex and contended area if, say, both parents want their baby on Christmas.
The dispute resolution mentioned previously is a required part of any custody agreement. Any agreement needs to follow the law, but it may need to do plenty more to be fair for your family.
One parent could add certain provisions about the care and return of their child’s property so they don’t come home in filthy clothes. They could add provisions about transportation if they don’t have a car. If it’s in the best interest of the child, the court will allow almost anything.
4. Be Ready to Change It
The custody agreement doesn’t always have to stay the same. Children may benefit from switching between homes when they’re younger more than they do when they’re teens. Review the custody agreement as they age and their preferences change.
Make sure that you have a process for periodically reviewing it and making changes. It’s best to review the agreement at least every five years and do it together so that both sides are content. You should also file your requested changes with the court.
5. Get the Right Lawyer
Getting the best child custody lawyer is the best way to help your case and make sure it’s fair. Get recommendations from friends and family. See who they hired for their divorce or for similar matters such as:
- Marriage dissolution
Look for a divorce lawyer that specializes in family law and child custody. They should be local so they’ll be familiar with jurisdictional laws, regulations, and procedures in your area.
Look for their disciplinary record to make sure it’s clean. Check for negative comments in client testimonials.
Narrow down your options by scheduling a consultation with each one. This is one of the easiest ways to see if they’ll communicate with you openly and compassionately. Ask about their billing and costs, which can differ based on factors such as their success rate and the size of their firm.
Where to Find a Lawyer to Get a Fair Custody Agreement
Getting a fair custody arrangement is the most difficult but essential part of a divorce when children are involved.
Put emotions aside and focus on your child. Customize every part of the agreement to fit the needs of your family.
Having the right representation ensures it stays fair. Schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers today.