How to Negotiate Child Custody and Divorce

By Rob Jennings J.D.

Child custody is one of the biggest issues to negotiate when going through a divorce. There are many ways to handle placement of children and this is often one of the more emotional parts of a divorce proceeding. However, when divorcing couples can come to an agreement that works for the family, the children benefit in the end.

Child Custody Laws

Child custody consists of legal and physical components. Legal custody is the power to make decisions for your child, such as education, religion and health care. Physical custody represents a child's primary residence and his day-to-day care. Child custody laws vary by state, so check your state's statutes. This will help you determine what the court might order if your case proceeds to trial. Typically, a court’s primary consideration is the child’s best interests. Therefore, you should provide evidence as to how your desired arrangement benefits the child.

Sole Custody

Sole legal custody is when one parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare. Sole physical custody is when the child resides with and is under the supervision of one parent. However, the noncustodial parent usually has visitation rights, unless the court determines visitation would not be in the best interest of the child. Courts often do not like to award sole physical and legal custody to a parent unless the other parent is unfit. Typically, courts prefer shared legal custody and rather one parent not have absolute decision-making authority over a child.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Joint Custody

Joint or shared custody allows both parents to share either legal custody of the child, physical custody of the child, or both. Often when joint custody is awarded, both parents share physical custody of the child; however, one parent will usually serve as the child's primary residential parent. Joint custody in which both legal and physical custody are shared between parents is optimal when both parents get along. It allows both parents to have input on major decisions and disperses the responsibility of raising the children, allowing the children greater access to both parents.

Negotiations

Usually the best interests of the child is the standard for determining custody arrangements. A parent may argue for sole custody or designation as the primary residential parent by using the child's school records to show how the child has been making good grades while living with her. A parent could also use medical records, such as visits with a psychiatrist, to show how living with her is beneficial to the child. A parent may also provide evidence that she has been the primary caregiver of the child, as demonstrated by her regularly taking the child to school, helping with school work or cooking for the child. This will help show how the parent is capable of taking care of the child and maintains the status quo. Before negotiating your child custody case, you may want to set goals. This will help during negotiations since you will have a better picture of both your best case scenario and bottom line, which will help in reaching a compromise and settling the case.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Establish a Guardian for the Children When Both Biological Parents Are Divorced

References

Related articles

Can Family Court Force a Mother to Give Up Her Parental Rights & Also Her Visitation Rights?

When you divorce, the court will determine how custody of your children is split between you and your spouse, and the court has authority to remove all parental rights from either parent under provisions in your state’s laws. Generally, the court’s decisions are based on the best interests of your child, which usually involve giving the child a chance to form bonds with both parents.

Rights of Divorced Parents Sharing Custody of a Child

While child custody and visitation is dictated by state law, every state awards custody and visitation based on the best interests of the child standard. In other words, parents must show that the visitation and custody that they are requesting represents what is best for the child. States do not automatically award custody to the mother or the father, and sometimes parents share custody of their children.

What Is the Difference Between Custodial Parent & Primary Physical Custody?

During your divorce, the court awards physical custody -- which determines where your child resides -- to either you, your spouse or both of you. If the court awards physical custody to only one of you, or your child lives with one parent most of the time, that parent will be known as your child's custodial parent, which also is described as having primary physical custody. The terms custodial parent and primary physical custody usually describe the same type of custody arrangement.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Is Secondary Custody?

Courts often decide custody matters during a divorce. This includes both decision-making authority and where the child ...

Ideas for Sharing Custody

A shared parenting plan post-divorce or after parents break up might be the kindest gift they can give their children, ...

What Is the Meaning of Primary Custodian?

When the word primary is used in connection with custody, it usually relates to physical custody – which parent your ...

Tips for Winning a Child Custody Battle

When making a child custody determination, most jurisdictions make a decision based on the best interests of the child. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED