Creating a child custody plan with one’s former spouse is not something most people look forward to. Unfortunately, it is an important step in the divorce process. If not handled correctly, custody disputes can lead to court hearings and legal battles between parents. An agreement on child custody should be developed by both parents and a family lawyer together to ensure that the best interests of their children are kept in mind.
1. Parent’s Ability to Provide for the Children’s Needs
It is important for each parent to consider how they are going to provide for their children after the divorce. They should think about if they will be able to provide food, shelter, education, and clothing. If one parent has a job that pays more than the other, they may need to pay child support. The child custody plan should include a plan for each parent to take care of the children’s daily needs and who pays what.
2. Age and Gender of the Children
When creating a child custody plan, it is important that parents consider the age and gender of their children. Each child has different needs that should be considered when making decisions about where they will stay during the week and when they will see each parent. For example, younger children require a lot more attention while school-aged children can do more things for themselves.
3. Parents’ Living Arrangements
Custody plans should be tailored to fit a family’s lifestyle or a parent’s living arrangements. If both parents live in different states, it may be more beneficial to have the children live with one of them so they can stay in the same school and community. If both parents live close by, they can split custody of their children 50/50 or take turns having custody every other week.
4. Parents’ Work Schedules
It is important for each parent to consider their work schedule when creating a child custody plan. If one parent has to travel frequently for work, it may be more beneficial for them to have the children live with them full-time to still see the other parent during the week. Additionally, parents should remember that each child responds differently to separation. Some children might feel abandoned if their non-custodial parents can only see them during the weekends. Others might need more time to adjust to not seeing both parents daily.
5. Children’s Wishes
It is important to consider the children’s wishes when creating a custody plan. Although they typically have no say in which parent they live with, it is still noteworthy to ask their thoughts on the matter. Children might feel abandoned if they cannot see their non-custodial parents as often, and staying overnight with them for visitation can help.
6. Flexibility and Compromise
Creating a child custody plan takes work and usually some compromises from each parent. Parents should consider how much flexibility is necessary for the arrangement to work as the family adapts to their new lives. Creating a visitation schedule that allows both parents some flexibility when getting the children to school or picking them up might be beneficial.
Creating a child custody plan takes careful planning and consideration of the needs of both parents and their children. If you are going through a divorce, it will be important for you to work with your spouse on creating the best arrangement possible for everyone involved.