Navigating child custody can be difficult as custody is often “contested”, meaning both parents cannot agree to a time-share/custody schedule. In my experience, judges would rather not make custody orders as this removes the decision making from the parents and into the hands of a stranger to the family.
Fortunately, there are many tools and options that facilitate co-parenting to help parties better manage custody.
As always, it is important to create a parenting plan that details custody and visitation. This can also include a holiday schedule that takes priority over the regular custodial plan. A detailed parenting plan is helpful as it keeps parents to a set schedule, which can provide stability for the children. To ensure a plan is an enforceable order, parents should prepare a Stipulation and Order and file it with the court during their Paternity/Dissolution case, so it becomes a court order.
Additionally, there are communication services and applications that can assist parents in peacefully communicating. Two that work well are Talking Parents and OurFamilyWizard. Both applications offer different levels of subscription services with various additional options. For example, the Tone Feature in OurFamilyWizard monitors the tone of a parent’s message before it is sent. This feature can act as a check-and-balance for parents when communication is difficult.
Another option is detailing the exchange location. For extremely high conflict cases, it may be easier and safer for exchanges to occur in the lobby or in front of a local police/sheriff’s station. With video and/or audio recording in and around the station, and law enforcement personnel inside, parents may feel safer during exchanges. This option is prototypical in matters involving Domestic Violence. Another option, usually for older children, is when dropping of the children one parent stays in the car and the children walk themselves from the vehicle to the residence.
When it comes to child custody, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Each family is different and needs someone to understand their unique needs and concerns. Having an experienced family law attorney by your side can help you crate solutions while protecting your rights and advocating for your and your children’s best interests. Contact The Reape-Rickett Law Firm at (888) 851-1611 or reach out to us via our Contact Us Page to meet with one of our experienced attorneys.