When it comes to child custody and parental visitation rights, in almost every case, it’s in your best interests as a parent to avoid letting the courts make a decision on those issues. Whenever possible, you and your child’s other parent should try and work out a custody and visitation agreement outside of court.
How do you do that? There are two ways you and your ex can negotiate: by creating a private custody agreement, or by both agreeing to child custody mediation.
Creating A Private Custody Agreement
A private custody agreement is a document you and your ex create that outlines what each parent agrees to on a number of different issues. For example:
- Joint or sole custody
- Legal and physical custody
- Visitation schedules
- Education and religion
It’s also important to include language in your private custody agreement that specifies how you or your ex can make changes to the agreement should the need arise.
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Child Custody Mediation
One of the biggest mistakes parents make regarding custody and visitation is dismissing the idea of child custody mediation out of hand and opting to go straight to trial instead.
The goal of mediation is to facilitate a productive conversation in which both parents work together to find a custody and visitation arrangement that works for them and their children.
The role of the mediator is to help settle arguments and suggest possible solutions when conflict arises. Most importantly, mediation allows each side to continue negotiating until both sides are satisfied with the outcome.
Let Your Attorney Help You
Whether you and your ex decide to create a private custody agreement or try child custody mediation, it’s important to involve your divorce attorney in either case. Your attorney will know the pros and cons of each option, and can offer advice to help you achieve the outcome you want.
Your attorney can also help with submitting an agreement to the courts, and handle any feedback from the judge if they don’t accept your agreement as-is.
To learn more about how an attorney can help you with negotiating child custody and visitation outside of court, request a free consultation today.