Are you considering joint vs. sole custody? Are you able to accept that you are no longer husband and wife, but you are a father and a mother? Being able to put your differences aside and communicate about the issues concerning your children is necessary to joint parent. This post will focus on Some Things to Consider When Thinking About Custody Issues.
The big issues that require communication and input from both parents are education, religion, and medical/health. The day to day decisions (what to eat for dinner, can the kids play with their friends, when will homework be done) are handled by a parent when that parent is with the child/children. But if you and your soon to be ex-spouse have shared beliefs re: education, religion and health care, you will likely be successful in creating a joint parenting agreement.
For example, to joint parent, you should have no problems calling your soon to be ex spouse to discuss school or a doctor's appointment or even invite your spouse to school events and doctors appointments.
If you are not able to discuss your children without fighting, you may want to consider working with a counselor prior to negotiating a parenting agreement. In some cases, parents are not ready to put their differences aside at the begining of the divorce process but they can after receiving professional help. It can be a huge benefit to your family if you take the time to heal.
If after considering or attempting professional help, you still cannot get along it may be time to discuss a sole custody parenting agreement. Sole custody means that one parent, typically the residential parent (the parent that resides a majority of the time with the children) makes all of the decisions re: education, religion, and healthcare. The parent may have to at least notify the other parent of any changes, but that parent does not have to discuss options with the parent prior to making decisions.
Parties tend to place a huge amount of importance on joint custody. Sometimes, just to get the divorce done people slap together a joint parenting agreement but this does not benefit the children. This is a big mistake. The parents continue to fight, the children are left stuck in the middle, and each party runs back to court over the smallest violation of the joint parenting agreement. Sometimes, a sole custody agreement is needed to help keep the peace and to allow the children some stability.
Collaborative law helps parties with deciding between a joint and sole custody agreement. Parties work with team members and child specialists so that they have the ability to work on their relationships and create a personalized custody agreement that works for the family. The parties are allowed time to explore all issues and concerns so that the resulting agreement is one that is likely to be followed by the parties.
If all else fails, the parties cannot work together collaboratively, and/or the children are at risk of emotional or physical abuse, litigation is needed. Under such circumstances, each party should consult with an attorney and discuss whether mediation is needed and how to proceed with court appointed evaluation so that a neutral judge can determine what is in the best interest of the children.
Contact us for legal representation to protect you and your children as you develop the best legal plan to incorporate Some Things to Consider When Thinking About Custody Issues.
Schedule a Consultation with Attorney Erin Birt