Child Custody Orders: To File or Not To File
Today having a child with someone you are not living with is becoming quite common. More and more, people are deciding that marriage and cohabitation are not prerequisites to parenting and coParenting. When this occurs, important questions need to be addressed. Who pays for what? When will the child stay at each home? Who will provide transportation? Not to mention the host of other issues that pop up. Will there be consistency with mealtimes, bedtimes, and screen time (access to TV, computers, and handheld devices) between the homes? How will holidays and vacations be divided between parents? Having a child custody order and parenting plan already in place protect the rights of both parents, allow the child to share time and have a relationship with each coParent, and can reduce conflict with timeshare and other parenting issues.
Why Should I File Child Custody Orders Early?
During my time as a Family Court Recommending Counselor, I learned that most child custody orders are filed when the parents have not been able to work through parenting issues. More often than not, numerous arguments already took place, sometimes compounded with the involvement of extended family members. The strong emotions and escalated conflict that developed as a result lessened the likelihood that the coParents would come to an agreement.
The truth is, before tensions rise, coParents can work together with or without a private or court-connected professional to help them develop a child custody parenting plan that includes the following:
- Vacation schedules
- Payment plans
- Household expectations
- Clear guidelines of expectations
Agreeing to work together to put a plan in writing early can save time, money, and stress and allows coParents to avoid the rush of negative thoughts and emotions that are usually connected with this process. Steering clear of a bitter court battle will also reduce the stress, fear, and anxiety experienced by not only both coParents, but the children. In addition to the resources available at your local courthouse, there are a number of books and coParenting resources that can help you with this process.