The Kids Come First: Creating a Custody Agreement that Works for Everyone

When it comes to divorce, there are few more hotly contested issues than child custody. Even in the best of circumstances, creating a custody agreement that will work for everyone is often fraught with negotiations, concessions, and compromise. Fortunately, there are a few key principles that will help you create a custody agreement that works for everyone, especially the child or children involved.

1. It’s Not About You.

It’s no secret that divorce is an emotional process. Regardless of the reasons behind your dissolution of marriage, you are likely experiencing hurt, anger, frustration, sadness, grief, and possibly a little relief. No matter what emotions you are experiencing, your children are experiencing many of the same things. Turning a custody agreement into a battle for the affections of your child will only serve to damage them now and in the future. Remember, custody is not about you. It’s about doing what is best for your child.

2. There is no such thing as a standard custody agreement.

There are a few things included in every custody agreement, but there is no one-size-fits-all arrangement. Every custody agreement has provisions for physical and legal custody, some form of visitation schedule, a way for parents to handle important life decisions for their child, rules for their child’s care, and a set way to make changes to the arrangement. Beyond that, what the custody agreement looks like depends on works for your family. If you live in the same town within a few miles of each other, visitation may include having the child swap households every few days to ensure your child has equal time with both parents. If you live in different areas of Maryland or if you live in different states, a holiday and summer visitation may work best. Your custody agreement will look different than anyone else’s and your attorney can help you navigate that negotiation process.

3. Your custody agreement may change.

As nice as it would be to create a custody agreement that works forever, that simply isn’t the case. As your child gets older, they may need more time with one parent. They may even have an opinion about whose house they spend time at and when depending on extra-curricular activities, friends, health concerns, or other external factors. That is why every custody agreement needs to have provisions for change. This set process can help mitigate many problems with your ex-spouse later on in your child’s life. It can also help you best meet your child’s changing needs as they get older.

Creating a custody agreement that works for all parties is often a long, difficult process. Consulting with an attorney with years of experience in areas of child custody can make it less difficult on you and your child. Let Jaimee C McDowell use her years of experience in child custody and divorce to help you find the custody arrangement that is right for you now and in the future.