So, you have made the decision that you must get out of your marriage and divorce is your only option. It happens. The next step is deciding what is best for your children. Who should they live with? Is there abuse happening? Can you tailor your custody agreement to both of your schedules in a more open way? Where do we even begin?
These are questions that are important to ask yourself. The answers always depend on the child’s relationship with you AND your former spouse and how close you live to each other.
One truth to keep in mind is that when both parents love the children and are capable parents, there is no reason for contentious fighting. Friendly co-parenting is always an excellent goal to attain.
Another truth is that a divorce in the courtroom doesn’t usually allow, or have time for, a detailed and lenient child custody plan. You have options both inside and outside the courtroom.
These are your options:
We Are Friendly And Actively Co-parent
We Live Near Each Other
When a divorcing couple thinks of the children first and can agree that there is no abuse in the family then they can work with their attorneys and come up with a parenting plan that compliments both parent’s schedules. Holidays can be divided or even spent together, at your behest.
The quickest and easiest way to get a tailored custody agreement is to create a custody plan in a mediation setting where you agree on a schedule and even add some leniency in that schedule, for special occasions, for example. A plan created in mediation is just as binding as a plan created in a courtroom divorce.
The situation can be very easy if you live in the same town as your ex-partner and even easier if your children are old enough to make some decisions on their own. You can each spend time with the children every day, if that is the goal. The options you will have with custody arrangements are limitless in a mediated divorce.
The arrangement can be more open with a considerable amount of leniency. If the children are young while you live somewhat near each other, you can divide your time equally, for example, and even share them equally during the holidays.
We Don’t Live Near Each Other
This situation does become a little more difficult when you don’t live near your former spouse but you both want to share the children equally. The difficulty is usually based around school and their weekly priorities. This is where a tailored custody plan works the best.
For example, one parent may have the child during the week and the other on weekends during the school year. Then you can switch that arrangement during the summer months and holiday breaks.
You may not be able to get an agreement like this in a courtroom divorce and a decision about the custody of your children may not be up to you. It can be unfair to one or both of you, which makes mediation the perfect choice as long as you get along and actively co-parent with gusto.
We Don’t Get Along
There Is The Possibility For Abuse And Neglect
You may not get along due to some measure of abuse and neglect you and your children experienced in the home, as defined by Minnesota Statute 609.377 and 609.378. It is important to work closely with your lawyer in this situation and a courtroom divorce will be your best option in these circumstances. Mediation cannot help in these circumstances because specific and dangerous laws were broken.
When you accuse someone of abuse and/or neglect, you must prove that your situation is, in fact, abusive and neglectful. Your lawyer will work with you and help you prepare and gather any evidence that you may have to have a chance at gaining full custody.
You must expect that your former spouse will fight back and even try to accuse you of wrongdoing. A knowledgeable attorney will know what you will need to disprove these accusations and build a strategy to fight back.
The entire goal is to protect your children as much as you can while still coming up with the best custody arrangement possible. It is essential to attain the services of a compassionate attorney with experience in protecting children from abusive situations.
No Abuse And Neglect
When there are no accusations of abuse and neglect, mediation is possible, even in a contentious situation as long as you decide to do what is best for your children. Children need to be around the ones who love them, and they need to be around both parents.
Occasionally, one party will disagree just to be difficult and disagree. If this happens, a judge will need to oversee the deliberations and make an educated decision based on what they observe. Mediation will not help here either.
A more strict custody arrangement may be warranted and you will have options if your former spouse doesn’t follow the rules.
Remember, things do come up. If your former spouse is late picking up the children or dropping them off and it isn’t usually a problem, then let it go. Since your divorce attorney is familiar with your custody agreement, a quick call for advice is the way to go.
A Compassionate And Family-Centered Attorney
The most important part of your divorce is that your children are safe and well taken care of. Our team at Beckman Steen & Lungstrom, P.A. are highly experienced in these matters and are here to support you in all your decisions and answer all of your questions. We will protect you and your children.
Please, contact us to schedule your free initial consultation and we will discuss what that protection looks like to you. We will always do our best for your entire family, no matter what.