It’s no secret that divorces can be angry and nasty affairs rife with fighting and poor behavior. When you add children to the mix, though, it gets even more complicated.
Working out child custody is often harder than working out any potential alimony, split assets, or even the divorce agreement itself. You’re responsible for making sure not only that the plan works for the child (and this should be your primary focus) but that it also works for both parents.
This is easier said than done.
We want to offer some advice. If you’re in the midst of arranging a child custody plan, or you know that one is on the horizon, continue reading for our 6 top tips on making sure that everyone leaves happy.
1. Think of the Child
Divorce is messy and parents caught in the whirlwind of it can find themselves acting out towards each other. It’s easy to blame the other parent or want them to “pay” for the things that caused the divorce in the first place.
Your child should be your top priority, though. They aren’t responsible for your separation and they don’t have a clear idea of what’s going on. Whether your kid is a baby, a toddler, a young child, a pre-teen, or a teenager, they need to know that they’re being considered and that they’re not being used as a bargaining chip.
If your child is old enough, you can let them in on the decision even if it’s up to you and the other parent at the end of the day.
If not, consider their needs. It’s ideal to have both parents spending time with the child. Joint custody is thought to be better for the development and mental health of the child. This means that your decision matters and it can have an impact on their future.
An ideal child custody and child support system allows the child to keep the same quality of life as they had before the divorce. Their needs should be met in terms of mental health, overall happiness, and finances.
2. Determine Individual Needs and Strengths
While you’re negotiating, you’re going to need to work together to find out what each parent is going to be capable of relating to custody.
In most cases, both parents have full-time jobs once the child is old enough for daycare. In this situation, with no other factors, it’s best for the child to spend equal time with each parent. Both parents have money to provide for the child and both are going to have about the same amount of time to devote to them.
Joint custody child support is a thing (contrary to popular belief), so even if one parent is less able to provide financially, split custody can still work if the other parent contributes.
This is a good time to figure out where each parent shines in regard to the child. Is one parent better at arranging and maintaining appointments while the other is better at taking the child to events and buying their necessary supplies? Work out agreements that aren’t just about “who gets the child” but also about who is responsible for what needs.
3. Consider Counseling
Many people only do counseling when it’s mandated by law or before the marriage dissolves in a last-ditch effort to maintain it.
Counseling can be helpful while you’re working on the process of negotiating child custody. While counselors don’t replace good divorce lawyers, they do act as a neutral third party so you can hash things out in a safe place where they won’t get messy.
A counselor may help to deescalate the situation so you’re better able to work together.
4. Be Flexible
You probably have an idea in your head of how you want custody to go. So does the other parent. Everyone wants what’s best for themselves in the beginning, so you need to be willing to budge on certain things in the best interest of the whole family.
Remember that there was a time where you enjoyed this person’s company and keep that thought when you’re making arrangements.
Flexibility might end in neither parent getting exactly what they want, but rather a situation that works for everyone.
Hear your former partner out and be willing to consider their side.
5. Work on Co-parenting Skills
If both parents are going to be sharing child custody, they should learn how to co-parent in separate homes. You can start working on these skills before the divorce is complete and custody is arranged.
There are plenty of apps and calendars that can help you learn how to communicate, plan, and figure out this new life.
Don’t put off the co-parenting until after the messy custody battle is complete. This will make for a smoother transition for the parents and the child.
Related Article: Parenting Plan
6. Invest In a Good Child Custody Lawyer
In a perfect world, all divorces would be amicable and there would be no arguments about custody. Parents would put aside their animosity in the best interests of the child.
In the real world, they usually need a push and someone to help with the negotiations in case things get messy.
A good child custody or divorce lawyer is going to help you push for what you need while the other parent pushes for their needs. This helps you find common ground and helps to mitigate any problems down the line.
The lawyers know the law better than you do, and they can ensure that neither parent is being misled or getting a bad deal.
They can also help with child support and ensure that the parent isn’t overpaying and that the other parent getting the money that was agreed upon.
Related Article: Understanding and Navigating Child Support in Madison
Arranging Child Custody Is Stressful but You Can Do It
Don’t let your divorce become your child’s problem. Child custody is a sensitive issue, but finding a place where everyone is happy is key to co-parenting in peace.
If you’re in need of a divorce and child custody lawyer in the Madison, WI area, we want to hear about it. Visit our site to learn more about what we do and to book a free consultation today.