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Amicable custody agreement possible if parents cooperate

Recently, a celebrity duo who could have carried out a lengthy court battle quickly reached a settlement in their divorce and a child custody agreement. This speedy action left some observers in Texas to wonder how they reached a consensus in such a quick manner.

Experts said that it isn't unusual to see parents come together to reach an agreement. A study indicates that 51 percent of child custody settlements are reached by parental concurrence. The same study showed that 4 percent of custody cases go to trial, with less than half of those being decided by a judge after the end of a full trial.

One expert said that she has observed that when child custody is agreed upon quickly, there usually are these common elements:

•1. Parents agree that their children come first. Parents agree to put the best interests of their children above their wishes.

•2. Both parents appreciate the co-parenting of the other and do not think they can, or should, fill both roles. Additionally, they do not want to try to replace the other parents with a friend, relative or, eventually, a stepparent.

•3. They express a desire and willingness to work together for the sake of the kids. They agree on financial issues, as well as the logistics required to share custody.

•4. The parents are realistic and know they must share parenting time and the ability to make decisions with the other parent.

To achieve a speedy custody agreement, the parents must focus on the best interests of the child, request reasonable custody and not break from family customs. Each parent should look inward and think about how the child's life would be had the parents stayed together and act accordingly.

Just as the celebrity parents managed to keep the focus on their child, that is what is best for all families. Protracted custody negotiations and times in and out of court usually do not serve those best interests.

Source: Huffington Post, "How To Settle Child Custody in Holmes-Cruise Speed," Laurie Giles, July 14, 2012

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