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What to Consider When Preparing for Child Custody Negotiation

Custody terms are some of the most important decisions made after parents separate by divorce. If you don't want the court to decide, you can obtain the help of a lawyer to reach a mutual agreement with your exspouse on custody and other parenting issues. 

When you sit down to negotiate custody agreement terms with your ex-spouse, you'll come up with a parenting plan that puts the best interest of your children first. One of the first things you'll need to come to an agreement on is the type of custody that best suits your children's needs.

Here are the types of custody you should become familiar with, as well as some tips for creating a parenting plan with your ex-spouse.

Physical Custody

The term physical custody refers to where the child physically lives. The parent who has physical custody has the right to have the child live in the home. Sole physical custody means one parent has the sole right to have the child live with them. 

Joint physical custody is an arrangement in which the child divides time living with each parent. If both parents live close to one another, joint physical custody may provide an ideal solution. However, it may not be the best option if you live far from your ex-spouse as it may serve as a disruption that causes the child stress. 

Legal Custody

Having the legal right and obligation to make decisions that affect your child's upbringing is referred to as legal custody. If you want a say in how your child is raised and don't want the courts to decide, you'll need to come to an agreement on legal custody.

Depending on what's best for your child, you can agree to sole legal custody, or share joint legal custody with the other parent. Both parents share the decision making when a joint legal custody agreement is reached.

You'll have an obligation to include your ex-spouse in the decision-making process when you agree on joint legal custody. 

The other parent can have the court intervene if you fail to include them in the decision-making process. Consider whether you and the other parent can communicate well and whether you share similar views on how you want to raise your children. 

In an ideal joint legal custody situation, both parents communicate well, are open to compromise, put the children's best interest first and are on the same page in major decisions that affect the child's upbringing. 

Putting Together a Parenting Plan

Outlining the details of your parenting plan is a crucial part of avoiding conflict down the road. Children need stability and need to know what to expect, so give important parenting elements careful thought and work to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse. 
A good parenting plan should include these elements: 
  • Parenting Schedule - Based on your custody agreement, come up with a schedule that outlines when each parent will spend time with the children.
  • Dietary Guidelines - Agree on the type of dietary needs and guidelines that are best for your children.
  • Discipline Methods - It's a good idea to be on the same page with discipline. 
  • Daily Schedule - Create a consistent daily schedule that includes mealtimes, homework, computer time and any other activities.
It's impossible to plan for everything, but considering the points in this article will get you off to a good start.

Going through a divorce is stressful enough on its own and compounded when children are involved. The team of attorneys at Novack Law Offices have experience with custody agreements and can help you find the best solution for your family. 


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    The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding you individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your call, letter or electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to you until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.