Divorce and child custody are two traumatic words that parents hope they never will hear. Divorce itself is an emotional and traumatic event where marital assets and liabilities must be divided between spouses that were gained through marriage. When adding the additional struggle of making decisions concerning child custody, this often doubles the stress associated with divorce. Parents of divorce struggle when dividing material items from the marriage and often cannot to imagine how to divide time with the most precious assets of the marriage, their children. In the child custody agreement, parents of the divorce must make decisions of how the actual time will be spent with their children. Courts often rule in the best interest of the children when making decisions concerning child custody in divorce.
There are many factors to consider as parents begin to contemplate how to divide time with their children. Five considerations that parents may want to consider for child custody are:
1. Parental work schedules should be considered when realistically planning child custody. Divorce often requires parents to change work hours in order to take advantage of visitation. If one parent works the night schedule then of course unless a sitter or family member can stay with the children, visitation during the night work schedule would not be a viable option. Another option is if the parent cannot actual time with the children, then the children spending time with the other parent may be more feasible than needing to stay with strangers or having to depend on other family members to make themselves available to fit your work schedule.
2. The predominant caregiver for the children during marriage is often a consideration not only for parents but also for the court. What is the relationship between the children and the parents? Has one parent formed more of an emotional bond with the children than the other? This may be a reflection of time spent with the children due to work, but the past care giving relationship may be a consideration. Choosing to make the least changes for children may be helpful for stress reduction. The overall factor may be answered by how will the children be affected by the proposed child custody agreement? Would the arrangements create harmony for the children or be disrupting to their routine and the manner to which they are accustomed.
3. The ability to meet the needs of the children is a realistic challenge. Basic human needs of food and shelter of course is a must, but what about child care needs such as completing homework, providing nutritious meals, and the ability to meet all parenting needs of the children. When reviewing this topic, one may tend to consider the lifestyle of each parent and if it would offer a stable environment for the children. Questions that may be asked are if one parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence or any other problem that may not be beneficial to meet and maintain the needs of the children.
4. Children’s desires should be considered when preparing the custody parenting plan. Of course most children desire for the marriage to stay intact, but if this is not happening, what would the children desire? Having family discussions concerning upcoming family changes with the children as a couple may be beneficial to allow adjustment for future changes. Children often feel a sense of security when transition information is discussed and they are allowed to voice their concerns as well as their wishes. Parents may not be able to meet their desires but allowing the family unity as well as the communication among the family members creates a healthy environment for the changes that lie ahead.
5. Parents should try to come to an agreement about the custody parenting plan in order to meet all the children’s needs presently as well as the future. Parents know how their children have been raised, what expectations have been presented to their children and how to make the best decisions concerning their children. When divorce occurs, spouses often allow anger to invade their parenting abilities and would rather allow a perfect stranger to make decisions about their family. What parents often do not realize is that they must live by the order that this stranger creates or else he/she will be in contempt of court. Yes, contempt of court when it concerns the welfare of their children. This is the time to lay all differences aside and stay focused on deciding the future that your children will have. Your decisions made today will affect the rest of your children’s lives; therefore do not allow animosity to invade your children’s future.
Much thought and consideration must be given to child custody decisions when divorcing. Take adequate time and allow professionals who not only know legal issues but also issues of family dynamics may be helpful. Divorce Tool Box is aware of the many difficult decisions parents must make and is skilled in helping to create a customized parenting plan for your family. Visit our website at www.divorcetoolbox.com today.