Parents don’t have to leave their visitation and custody schedule up to the decision of a judge. In fact, courts want the best interests of the child to be the top priority. Often, the best interests of the child are that both parents are involved, have frequent contact with their children, and come to an agreement about their custody plan.
Just because you create and submit a proposed child custody agreement, however, does not mean that the judge will automatically accept it.
The Perfect Child Custody Agreement
Here are 3 ways to make sure that your parenting plan gets the stamp of approval from the judge.
Make Your Child’s Well-Being the Top Priority
Set aside your personal agenda and make your childrens’ well-being the top priority when crafting a custody schedule (aka a parenting plan). A judge is not going to look favorably on a parent who tries to use the schedule as a form of revenge.
Put yourself in each of your child’s shoes and think about how the schedule will affect them. Take into account their extracurricular activities and their own personal schedule. Divorce is hard enough on children, do not take away their outlets.
Consider allowing your children (if they are old enough) to voice their input in regards to the schedule. Preface the conversation by telling them that while ultimately you and your ex will have to come to an agreement about what is best for them, you want to hear their input. While you may not be able to accommodate all of their wishes, allowing them to weigh in helps them to feel seen and heard.
The purpose of your parenting plan is to allow your children to continue to have a relationship with both of their parents. This means that you are going to have to compromise with the other party.
Just because you and your ex don’t agree on everything does not mean you need to duke it out in court. Through mediation, parents can negotiate a child custody arrangement (outside of court) that will work best for the children and the family.
Remember, if the court decides on your parenting plan, the outcome is entirely out of your hands. It is better to compromise on a couple of things than wind up with less parenting time and even the right to make certain decisions for your child.
Creating a parenting plan together shows the judge (and your kids) that you are committed to having a healthy co-parent relationship. A judge is more likely to accept a proposed parenting plan if both parents have compromised to sign off on the agreement.
Include the Right Information
It is important that your parenting plan is comprehensive and includes all of the necessary legal details. Some of these details include
- Declaration of custody
- The division of parental authority and decision-making abilities
- A parenting time schedule
- Exchanges (pick-up and drop-off logistics)
- Holiday/vacation visitation
- Methods for modifying the custody arrangement
- Method of dispute resolution
- Response time (how much time does one parent need to allow to pass after contacting the other parent before they can act alone)
Many individuals decide to work with a family law attorney to create a parenting plan. A family law attorney will ensure that you include all of the proper information in your parenting plan.
Some individuals choose to use various software programs to help them create their parenting plan. Popular programs include Custody XChange & Our Family Wizard.
Divorce is hard, but it doesn’t have to be riddled with drama. When you put your differences aside and focus on your kids’ well-being, things will fall into place.