Child custody is an important factor that many parents are forced to navigate during their divorce. But did you know that you may not need to go to court to decide custody?
A co-parenting plan doesn’t need to be decided by a judge. In fact, you aren’t required to have a court-ordered custody agreement after your divorce. Instead, you can bring the custody arrangement you and your ex have created to the family courts and have it approved. If you’d like to try approaching child custody from a more relaxed perspective, here’s how you can agree to a parenting plan while staying out of court.
Start Out by Negotiating
We always want to consider the best interest of the child when creating a parenting plan. If your ex and you both believe that the other parent will keep this in mind, it can be relatively easy to decide on many aspects of parenting. Even if you don’t initially agree on every topic, it’s easier to negotiate a compromise when you’re willing to put your child first. However, you can always utilize the assistance of a third-party such as a mediator to help you come to a mutual agreement.
Utilizing Collaborative Law
If co-parents have differing opinions on certain important parenting issues, it may be best to take a collaborative approach with the assistance of attorneys. This is a different type of negotiation that doesn’t rely on a neutral third party. Instead, each parent will have their own attorney who will negotiate with the other party’s child custody lawyer to reach an agreement. Collaborative law allows each party to receive the support of an attorney while staying out of court. This gives the parents final say on their custody arrangement instead of leaving things up to a judge. But keep in mind that if you try collaborative law and cannot reach an agreement, you will be headed to court. This is great motivation to make things work with your ex!
Creating A Comprehensive Plan
Most parenting plans are about more than just who has custody of the child. They may dictate which parent is in charge of certain activities and expenses, and they often address how the parents will work together to make important decisions about the child’s future. Common considerations include religious practices, discipline styles, relationships with extended family, and daytime childcare. If you put your shared expectations down on paper now, it may save you a headache later if your co-parent tries to go against these guidelines. It is always best to draft your parenting plan with the assistance of a family law attorney in Edina. Your documents should stand up to legal scrutiny in the future if its terms are not followed.
Beth Barbosa is an Edina divorce and family law attorney who is experienced in helping clients create comprehensive parenting plans while avoiding the hassle and expense of court. She will ensure that your voice is heard and you arrive at the end of the process has made the decisions that you believe to be the most beneficial to your children.