There are a few things that every good family lawyer will tell you that you need to create a custody or decision-making responsibility agreement that works:
- a positive attitude,
- a willingness to compromise, and
- a realistic grasp of each party’s needs.
Your custody or decision-making responsibility agreement should contain:
- a custody and access or a decision-making responsibility and parenting time schedule,
- a holiday schedule (which includes birthdays),
- a parenting plan, and
- child support information.
Your parenting plan can include information like:
- how to make alterations to the schedule,
- what your shared expectations are regarding matters like religious attendance,
- procedures for the introduction of new partners, and
- whatever else may come your way.
If you must hire a babysitter, will the other parent have the option to fill in? What will you do if either of you has to move for work? Resolving issues before they become issues can help you avoid conflicts further down the line.
When deciding on a custody or decision-making responsibility arrangement, make sure that you are creating a schedule that suits the realities of your situation. Things that you should take into consideration include:
- your children’s ages and personalities,
- the career and social commitments of each parent,
- your family schedule,
- the academic and extracurricular activities of each child, and
- the distance between your homes.
Typically, infant children will remain in the primary care of the mothers, but toddlers and young children are able to adapt to the movement back and forth between two homes well. Older children will likely not want to go back and forth as often, so as they hit middle and high school parents often switch to a weekend vs. weekday or every-other-weekend schedule.
Do not commit to something that you can’t keep up – if your job commitments are going to conflict with this or you are going to be late all the time, do not create an expectation with your partner or children that you are going to be there on time.