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Setting up child custody arrangements, outside of court

Many courts encourage couples to engage in informal negotiations to resolve child custody disputes. The courts are ill-prepared to investigate and issue child custody decisions that fundamentally affect the lives of parents and children. The judge does not know the child that well, she does not know the circumstances of your relationship or anything else to do with the case.

The judge is entirely reliant on two parties, opposed to one another, which can often result in conflicting and confusing testimony and arguments. If you can collaborate with your ex-partner, that is the best way to settle these disputes.

The courts allow you to engage in direct negotiations, work with a mediator or any other method that works for your situation. Most couples also take the agreement before the court to convert it into an order. You probably will want to do this because it provides additional enforcement powers that an informal agreement lacks.

But if you do submit your agreement, the judge will review it to ensure that it is in the best interests of the child. That means, while you are negotiating with your ex-spouse, you need to remember that the custody arrangement’s entire focus should be on your child and how to make his or her life better.

If you are negotiating with your ex-spouse over child custody issues, you may want to speak to an attorney. Direct negotiation is an excellent way to keep down the cost of these disputes, but it is also dangerous because you could overlook critical issues that lead to another dispute down the road. You may want a lawyer to look over the agreement before you submit it to the court for approval. The lawyer can ensure that the agreement addresses potential issues to reduce the likelihood of future disputes.

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