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Creating a fair custody plan with your child’s other parent

Parents who divorce face a number of very difficult choices, chief among them the choice between working together to create a parenting plan that meets their child's needs or forfeiting that responsibility to the court. To hear many divorcees discuss the process, one might think that a court steps in and harshly decides how parents raise their children, but in most cases this does not occur.

In fact, most judges prefer for parents to present their own parenting plan to the court for approval, if at all possible. A judge can and will step in and hand down parenting and custody orders, but as a general rule, parents have an opportunity to work together and self-determine their parenting and custody arrangements first.

If you face divorce and custody decisions in the near future, it is wise to consider very carefully how to create such a plan with your spouse while keeping your rights and privileges as a parent secure. You stand a much better chance of establishing fair terms for the agreement if you help create it and negotiate with your spouse instead of waiting for a court to settle the matter.

Your rights matter, and you must protect them, but your parenting plan must focus on what is best for your child if you want a judge to approve it. Take great care to fully consider your child's current and future needs, as well as your own needs and advantages as you negotiate and build your plan. Careful attention to detail can help ensure that you do not forfeit parenting privileges in a moment of tense emotion, preserving your priorities while creating firm ground for your child on which your child can grow.

Source: FindLaw, "How Child Custody Decisions Are Made," accessed June 08, 2018

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