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Making Custody Decisions

The mission: To plan a practical way to care for the child, with each parent pursuing the responsibilities they have had in the past.

Where to begin?

A frank discussion of traditional influences exercised in the past by each parent would be the best place to start. If the discussion never amounts to anything more than exchanging volleys of "I always did this, you never did that", in the end the entire purpose of the conversation will be defeated.

Each parent needs to acknowledge the other's contributions made in rearing the child. It is important to give proper credit where credit is due. In short, nothing less than a positive atmosphere should prevail.

The entire purpose of the conversation is to hopefully find the answer to the most important question, what custody arrangements are in "the best interests of our child?" In some instances the answer discovered might leave one parent happier than the other, but under no circumstances should the focus ever be allowed to deviate from a child's best interest.

In order to ease the parent's burden, it is often suggested that counseling be sought and/or books be read concerning child custody issues and disputes.

How will the child be reared?

At this point a plan should be drafted to make certain that parties have communicated clearly. This will eliminate any lingering or potential misunderstandings that may arise in the future.

Feelings of competitiveness or selfishness are not unnatural, but must not be allowed to influence any important decisions that are made. Seeking the advice of a good friend or a counselor are two avenues available to guard against these very human emotions. Proper custody arrangements are for the child's benefit, never for that of the parents!

Who will have custody?

Once a plan has been mutually agreed upon, the question of custody arrangements should fall into line. There are many different types of child custody, both legal and physical, so there are a wide variety of options available to deal with all situations. If you plan to obtain joint custody it is vital that both parties be very flexible, and always take the future into consideration.

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