Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Golden Rules of Negotiating Child Custody

Separating from your partner is never an easy thing to do. However, just because you are no longer partners, it doesn't mean you're not parents. You still need to work together as much as possible to parent your child or children. Working out custody arrangements is a major part of separating for any couple with kids. If you're no longer living together, you need to work out where the child's primary home will be. You have to have a plan for when they will see and live with each parent. Not only that, but you also need to come up with a way for you to be able to parent together, even if you don't like each other. Try these tips to negotiate the best arrangement for your children.

Try to Work Together

When you're separating or getting divorced, you probably aren't getting on as a couple. Your feelings can range from sadness to resentment and anger. You might feel that you don't want to be even in the same room as your ex. However, when you're arranging custody for your children, it's not about you. Your aim is to come up with the best solution for your kids, to keep them as happy and healthy as possible. You're almost sure to have different ideas of what is best for your kids. But the purpose of negotiating custody is to find the compromises that work for both of you. Try your best to work together and discuss everything civilly, even while asking for certain things.

Consider Different Custody Arrangements

Before you start hashing it out, you should both have an idea of what sort of arrangements are possible. It's a good idea to look at some typical examples of agreements that many parents use. The choice doesn't have to be between a few obvious options. There's more than a 50/50 split, a weekday and weekend parent, or a term-time and holiday parent. Of course, those are all options you might consider. You need to consider both legal custody and physical custody. What will work best for your child and keep everyone happy? It's also important to consider how decision-making on parenting issues will work.

Agree on Your Child's Needs

Both of you should have the needs of each child in mind when you discuss custody. If you can agree on what is important for them, it could be a bit easier to make decisions. For example, you might decide that it is best to continue breastfeeding your baby. If you make this choice, you might come to the conclusion that there should be no nights away from mum until the child is older. There are several things you should think about. They range from your child's routine and stability to contact and time with each parent.

Look at Your Current Status

Separation can upset any child's world, and they can feel like everything has changed. The stability of their home life is often an important factor in making arrangements. Their parents are already going to be in separate homes, so making more changes can be hard to handle. If you were to take your case to court, the judge would consider this. Before that's necessary, you should take it into account too. One of the things to consider is who the primary carer is. Sometimes it's a little difficult to say who does the majority of the parenting. However, perhaps one of you is a stay-at-home parent or handles a larger amount of childcare. This is a factor in deciding the primary residence for a child.

Working Out Logistics

The practicalities of sharing custody are sometimes complicated. You might live far apart or struggle to find the time to pick up and drop off your children. It's important to discuss how everything will work. If your child is going to their other parent for the weekend, will they pick them up from school? Will you perform a "handover", and if so will it be at home or a neutral location? If one of you lives far away, how will your child get there for their visits?

When to Take Your Child's Opinion into Account

Many parents wonder whether to ask their child's opinion on custody. A court might consider the thoughts of an older child. But they ultimately decide what is best for them, which might not be what they want. You should try to do the same as much as possible. It's best to avoid putting the decision on your child, especially if they're young. You could ask an older child if you want them to have some input. However, your decision still needs to be based on what's best for them, which they may not be capable of working out.

Use a Mediator

It's not always easy to negotiate between you. There can be lots of negative feelings involved in your separation. If you're struggling to stay amicable and work things out alone, you might benefit from a mediator. A mediator can help you work out a custody agreement without having to go to court. They can ensure you focus on your children and put personal problems aside to work out what's best for them.

Get a Lawyer Involved

Sometimes, you might be unable to come to an agreement, even with a mediator. In this case, a judge might need to decide on a custody arrangement for you. If you need to argue your side in court, a family lawyer will be your legal counsel. You can speak to someone like Bannister Preston Solicitors to represent you. You should ensure that you have representation in court, so you have a fair chance of getting what you want. Your solicitor can help you to prepare your case and build an argument to support your wishes. While representing yourself is a possibility, it isn't recommended.

Arranging child custody can be a complicated and drawn-out process. The most important thing to do is keep the best interests of your children in mind at all times.

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