The best way to get your fair share of child custody is to reach an agreement with your ex out-of-court. Child custody decisions in family court can appear inconsistent at times, and you never know when you hand the decision making to a judge what you'll end up with. You have much more control and a better chance of getting what you want if you work hard on coming up with a parenting agreement with your child's father. Here's how:
Step 1: Decide whether Mediation Is Appropriate
You don't have to go through the courts to obtain mediation services. If you and your ex have difficulty communicating on the matter by yourselves, then a third party can help to facilitate the discussions and help you move towards a child custody agreement. A mediator is impartial, and if necessary, you can have legal counsel present or in the background if you need consultation. You both can split the costs for mediation services, and it's often helpful to meet in the offices of the mediator or anywhere else but in your homes. If you're able to achieve the same results through information negotiations, then explore that option first.
Step 2: Gather Court and Other Related Documents
As you're working on a parenting agreement to resolve child custody issues, you may need to refer to documents from time to time. Some of these documents include:
- Prior agreements, such as a separation agreement
- Court orders
- School and health records
- Court documents, including complaints and affidavits
You should request copies of documents from your ex, as well as be open to sharing documents in your possession. Review the documents prior to mediation or negotiations, and have them handy in case you need to refer to them during the process of writing the agreement.
Step 3: Make a List of Items You Want Agreement On
There are some aspects of child custody that you probably care little about. For example, it may not matter to you what the child eats while he is staying with your ex. On the other hand, you may be highly concerned with what's your child's diet, because of potential medical or mental health concerns. Before writing an agreement, you should list those issues to make sure that a "fair share" of the issues that are important to you get addressed. Some of these may include:
- Summers and winters
- Living arrangements
- Travel expenses
You should know exactly what you want on each item that you list and work towards getting them. If you will not compromise on certain issues, make special note of them, but try to work through a mediation process to reach an agreement with your spouse.
A judge will review the final agreement and if he approves the agreement, it will become a court decree. You'll have a much better chance of getting your fair share of child custody by negotiating an agreement if possible.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.