Negotiating a Custody Arrangement That Actually Works for Your Children’s Well-Being
Divorcing parents have to focus on protecting their own interests as far as assets, debts and income. They must also factor in the interests of their children, and it’s normally in a child’s best interests to be part of the lives of both parents. We help parents put together custody agreements.
If children are involved, some divorces can degenerate to the point where children become pawns in the power game between divorcing spouses. If one spouse wants custody, then the other doesn’t want that to happen just as form of punishment for some real or imagined past deed. Just because a person was a bad spouse doesn’t mean he or she is a bad parent.
Though there are cases in which a child’s time with a parent genuinely needs to be limited, that’s not normally in the child’s best interests. Custody agreements should be worked out between the parents, which requires them to act like adults if they want to act in their children’s best interests.
How to make the best of the situation
The key elements of a successful custody agreement that serves a child’s interests are:
- A focus on meeting a child’s needs: What are those needs? How can each parent meet those needs? What are the child’s personality, interests and activities? How can these needs be met without one or both of the parents overextending themselves?
- Enough detail so that both parents and the children know what to expect: There needs to be some predictability, and each parent needs to know what’s expected of them so they can live up to their end of the bargain.
- Regular reviews to determine whether changes should be made in the agreement: Children grow older and their needs change over time. One or both parents’ situations may also change.
- A way for the parents to make decisions and resolve conflicts regarding parenting issues: As much as you need enough details in the agreement, not all issues can be resolved on paper. As time passes and issues arise, how will the parents make decisions? What’s the best way for the parents to communicate? What role, if any, will the child’s input play? Should some form of third-party mediation take place in case the parents are deadlocked over an important issue?
Working out a functional custody agreement can take flexibility and imagination, but mostly a desire to serve the best interests of the children. If you have any questions about child custody agreements, contact our office for a free consultation.