In a divorce that involves children, parents have to figure out who gets custody of their children.
If you and your spouse are going to both remain active in your children’s lives, you’ll need to carefully consider several consequential issues that will impact both your broader custody order and your co-parenting plan, specifically.
1. Will it be a sole or joint custody agreement?
Parents can choose between sole or joint custody if they are mutually agreeing to a specific arrangement. Sole custody gives a single parent both physical and legal custody of their children. In other words, they have the right to care for their children and make all of the decisions. If granted, the non-custodial parent may still have the right to parenting time – either by mutual agreement or order of the court.
Joint custody usually results in both parents retaining physical and legal rights over their children. Most things may be decided by both parents for the well-being of their child. For example, parents may discuss where their child goes to school and whether they will have a religious upbringing. In some circumstances, both parents may have legal custody while only one has physical custody.
2. Will the new parenting relationship be governed by a co-parenting or parallel parenting approach?
Co-parenting, essentially, allows parents to work together to make decisions for how their child is raised – communication is typically engaged in frequently and may happen in person. Parallel parenting may give each parent their own respective choices as to how their children are raised and any communication with the other parent is often done through text or email, which limits any conflict.
3. How will parenting time be approached?
Parents often have to work around their work and schooling schedules to incorporate time with their children. They also have to decide when and where their children are dropped off when it’s the other parent’s time to have parenting time. Setting clear expectations regarding scheduling in one’s parenting plan can minimize conflict and the potential for repeated tension related to concerns that will play out over and over again.
There’s no doubt that crafting a child custody arrangement is not an easy undertaking. Parents often benefit from seeking legal help to ensure that their rights – and their children’s best interests – remain protected throughout the process.