Perhaps the most important responsibility divorcing parents have is working out a child custody arrangement. No matter what the differences you and your ex have, you know that your children should be caught in the middle. Your kids deserve a living environment that helps them adjust to post-divorce life and lets them flourish as much as possible.
Though the judge can step in and decide the terms of the child custody order if necessary, most of the time, divorcing couples in the Waco area settle child custody and visitation themselves. Negotiating with the person you are getting divorced from is not easy, but here are four tips for making the process smoother.
- Understand that in Texas, the children’s best interests always come first. Your parental rights matter too, but the children’s needs to spend time with both parents (when safe and appropriate to do so) is more important.
- Decide on the outcome you want. Do you want to share custody? What would that look like — four weekdays at your house, and Friday through Sunday at your ex’s? Alternating weeks? Whatever it is, make sure your vision is a reasonable starting point for negotiations.
- Begin modeling what you want your relationship with your children to be going forward. Don’t wait until the divorce is final.
- Resist the urge to fight your ex on child custody. It can backfire and leave you in a drawn-out custody battle. And if the judge must impose a custody plan, it may not be anything near what you wanted, especially if you seem unreasonable.
A well-crafted custody plan that you and your co-parent negotiated in good faith (with your attorneys’ help) will help you and your kids transition to your new living arrangements.