In order to get the time you want with your child, you have to have a winning custody agreement. Having a winning agreement means that when you present your plan to the child’s other parent, the court, or mediation they accept it. The good news is that if you’re willing to put in some time and energy, you can get the parenting plan that you want.
The first thing you need to create your custody arrangement is some peace and quiet. For some people, finding the time and the space to think about and make their plan is the hardest part of the process. Try to set aside a two hour block of time (you may need to set aside a few blocks of time depending on how complicated your schedule is). Pick a place where the interruptions will be infrequent and you’ll be able to think deeply about your custody situation.
Your approach to drafting a custody agreement depends on what type of case you’re involved in. If you have a relatively peaceful situation where you and the child’s other parent suggest ideas and make changes until things are settled then you don’t have a lot of pressure. If you are in a raging custody battle then you will need to do some additionally preparation.
Every custody situation needs a concrete custody and visitation schedule. This is a good place to begin. Decide on your basic, rotating schedule and apply it to the year. If you are preparing a court case to get the schedule you want, you want to be sure to make a very thorough schedule complete with time percentages for each parent. You will also want to be sure to have explanations for the court as to why this particular schedule is in the child’s best interest.
In your custody schedule you will need to include holidays, vacation time and special events. The more you include the better off you will be. If you are still deciding about specifics and are coming up with suggestions, create a few different schedule ideas that are acceptable to you and give them to the other parent to look over. It’s good to be flexible.
Along with your visitation schedule, you want to include other important information in your agreement. This means that you type out a list of regulations and provisions that you want the other parent to follow (maybe you want a clause about the parents not speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the child). These will become part of the court order–so you need to include anything that you would want the court to enforce.
As you spend time thinking and deciding about these issues, you always want to make your decisions in the child’s best interest. If you are coming up with the best arrangement for your children it will be easier for the court and the other parent to accept it. And, putting your child first is the best way to get a winning custody agreement.
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