Custody Agreements That Are Best For Your Children
Being in the middle of a divorce can be very hard on your children. Even if everything else seems impossible or contentious, you can make your kids' lives easier by working closely with your ex to create a civil custody agreement. These days, there are more ways to come up with creative and workable solutions with just a few guiding factors to be aware of.
Infants and toddlers
Babies under the age of three need a primary caretaker to develop a close attachment with. Infants that don't have someone in their lives to count on for deep emotional bonding can develop an attachment disorder that will cause them and their families some real problems as they grow older.
Of course, infants and very young children can form secondary attachments with multiple people, which will help them to be happier and more secure. A couple that is divorcing with very young children should keep these things in mind when making a custody agreement.
It's best if one parent is designated as the one who will provide a secure home, and take on or continue the role of the primary caretaker. It would make sense to choose the person who has already been doing this in the marriage.
The other parent should not feel as though this makes their attention any less important. Children benefit profoundly when both parents can put their differences aside to work together in caring for them and also giving them plenty of loving attention and interest.
School Age Children
Custody agreements can be flexible to accommodate the needs of growing children. As they grow older, you will need to discuss how your circumstances fit in with the needs of the children to continue their schooling, feel secure, and have plenty of time with both parents.
The proximity of your homes to each other and to your child's school is something the court is going to consider when approving your custody agreement. If you both live close, either parent could reasonably get the children to school in the mornings and pick them up, so shared custody arrangements are common in these cases.
If you and your ex live an hour or more away from each other, then an arrangement that allows one parent to have the children during school days, and the other to have them on weekends, breaks and vacations, would be more practical. If you live very far away, then one parent may need to be need to be designated to have the physical custody, and the other parent would be able to have the children on school breaks and summer vacations.
Custody doesn't just involve having the children live with you. It is also the legal right to make decisions for the children, so these responsibilities can still be shared or divided up and then stipulated in the agreement. For example, one parent could be designated as the one who decides what type of school the children attend, while the other parent would decide what kind of medical treatment they would receive.
Other parental decisions that could be shared or divided are extracurricular activities that the kids are encouraged or allowed to engage in, and religious activities or affiliations they engage in or make. The more you and your ex can consult and work together, the happier and more secure your children will feel.
While teenagers tend to be of tougher stuff than younger children, they still like the security of a home base. They often have more stuff to carry around like clothes, school books and materials, band instruments and other things. Most teens prefer to stay and graduate from the high school they started at, if possible. Their social life is increasingly important, and a parent can really pay if he/she doesn't regard that very high on the list of priorities.
On the other hand, both parents should realize that a teen's associates can heavily influence them for right or wrong, so each should be observant about how a child spends their time and their general attitudes towards adults, school, and what to do with their free time. Flexibility is still necessary to meet the needs of older children. Teens need guidance at this time of life as much or more than any other time because many of their decisions can have life-long repercussions. They benefit much from both parents' interest and input.
Wherever the children are, whether at your home or your ex's, they should feel parental expectations/rules are reliable and consistent. This is another area that will require you and your ex to have good communication and to cooperate with each other.
For legal advice on what your state allows, you will need to consult with a family law attorney like Thomas & Associates, PC.