Determining Child Custody In A Divorce

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Getting divorced is rarely easy, and when minor children are involved, it can be even tougher. This is especially true if battling over how the children were parented was a comment argument or if both parents want primary custody. Here is a look at the chain of deciding child custody issues when divorcing.

Who Decides Who Gets Custody Of The Children?

Contrary to popular believe, divorcing parents don't need to lose any of their parenting rights at all. It doesn't need to be like it is in the movies, where the courts decide what happens. Parents have every right to decide together how they will parent their children moving forward during the separation and after the divorce. They can decide whichever child visitation schedule works for them, decide which religion they will be raised in, which school they will attend, and when they can begin dating. About the only thing that really needs to change is one parent must be the primary caretaker for tax dependent status as well as the obvious previous reason—someone needs to be responsible for the children.

What Happens If A Custody Agreement Can't Be Made?

Unfortunately, many parents are unable to come to an agreement they can both live with. Couples who had poor communication skills during the marriage rarely suddenly improve their ability in the heat of a divorce, especially if one partner feels scorned or the decision to divorce isn't mutual.  

In this case, your divorce attorney will likely recommend you encourage your soon-to-be ex to attend child custody mediation sessions with you.  This is where both parties in the divorce meet with a neutral party who can hopefully help them work out an agreement that works for everyone. However, the goal is to determine what is in the best interest of the child(ren), so difficulties can still arise if the parents drastically disagree on what constitutes their best interest.

What Happens If Voluntary Child Custody Mediation Doesn't Work?

When two parents attend mediation and still can't come up with an agreeable child custody agreement, the courts will get involved. The judge will either order mediation and ask then ask the mediator's placement recommendation, or the judge will simply decide for himself or herself what they feel is in the best interest of the child(ren). When the courts decide on custody matters, things rarely go the way either parent would prefer; therefore, it is far better to come to an agreement on your own.