When dealing with child custody concerns, the amount of structure that goes into the process is important in terms of how things are likely to turn out. In situations where issues are being contested and at least one side is up for a fight, structure allows parties to approach difficult questions in an orderly and thoughtful manner. In cases where both sides are trying to get along, structure can still ensure that minor issues are not left unaddressed. Let's explore how you can bring structure to child custody proceedings.
Hiring a child custody lawyer will go a long way toward providing structure. You might be worried about the cost of counsel, but working with a child custody lawyer services firm will ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. An attorney also can act as a buffer, allowing parties that are in contentious circumstances to communicate through their lawyers rather than getting into fights with each other.
Bear in mind that a single lawyer cannot represent both sides in a matter. Even if you are both attempting to settle things amicably, an attorney is legally obligated to stand up for the interests of only one party in any case. Both of you should get representation before moving forward with any negotiations or agreements.
Look into the Future
One of the biggest things that makes a mess of otherwise-friendly child custody arrangements is not looking far enough into the future. In particular, it is important to anticipate whether one or both of the parents in a case might want to move out of state in the future. If you need to move because of work, for example, you want to have the flexibility to do so. In the absence of an agreement that allows it, there are many custodial situations where one parent can prevent the other from moving. This is due to their right to have access to their offspring.
Dividing up responsibilities is important. Who will be responsible for paying for medical bills and insurance? Who will be paying into a college fund? If custody is shared, who will be responsible for getting children to school?
Many people assume the parent with majority custody has to be responsible for these things. Likewise, many assume paying support lets them off the hook for other responsibilities. Sort these issues out during initial custody negotiations, if possible.