It’s common for a couple going through a divorce to need advice on parenting arrangements (previously called child custody) if they have children. Even though your relationship with your partner has changed, if you have had children together, it’s generally in everyone’s best interest for you and your ex to agree on parenting arrangements that keep both parents involved in the children’s lives, as is appropriate for the children and practical for the parents.
Read on to find out more about your parenting arrangement options during a separation.
It’s hard to change your approach to parenting once a relationship in the family has broken down, but it can be done even if there is still tension between former partners.
Often, parents both want as much time for themselves with the child or children as is possible. The next most common problem is that one partner does not want the other to see the children that much. In both cases, equal-time might be a first thought for compromise, but there are a number of reasons that this may not be feasible, nor the best choice for the children involved. One of the reasons equal time might not be possible is travel time – large distances between parents can make this an unreasonable option to put the children through.
No matter what the case is, the important thing is that you and your former spouse draw up a clear and easy-to-follow plan of how much time your children will spend with each parent, and how parenting will be carried out. The easiest way to reach this is to see things from the child’s perspective as you draft your parenting arrangements – you may have to make compromises in order to make sure that the children involved are getting the best situation possible.
Having a co-parenting arrangement in place is an important step toward keeping the separation as painless as possible for everyone involved, but most importantly for the children. In drafting a plan, you and your ex-partner will need to consider the responsibilities involved in parenting and the rights of the children to see each parent, in addition to a pre-agreed method of settling disputes.
You may be able to do this together if the split was amicable. If not, separating couples usually seek the help of child custody lawyers in order to mediate the planning process.
This plan needs to include backup provisions for emergencies in which your child or children suddenly need to stay home from school or childcare, and provisions for changing the plan in the future in case one parent changes circumstances.
Ideally, with the above guidelines in place, you will be able to cover three vital cornerstones of intent behind parenting agreements:
If the plan is unable to meet these three fundamental needs, then the expertise of child support lawyers can help parents find out what their next options are.
The truth is, each and every family has a unique situation so an agreement that works for you might be completely different to what works for someone else. Don’t feel as though you have to find a similar agreement that suits you – you probably already have an idea of what’s best for your children, so you should plan around that.
Of course, there are a number of things which should feature when deciding on any parenting agreement – the age of the children, establishing regular routines (which can become flexible if needed), and required notice periods for changing the agreement are all important to any plan you might draft.
Parenting agreements are also an opportunity to decide how to handle the distribution of time spent with grandparents or other relatives, and case-specific concerns which might include religious matters or ensuring the children still have access to their ancestral cultures.
Separating is hard enough without kids – with them, it’s so much more important to get it right. If you need the help of a professional, talk to the family law team here at Watts McCray Lawyers. We can help you come to an agreement that works for everyone. Legal help can give you the confidence you need to achieve what you know is the right thing for your children.