Child Custody and Visitation Overview
When the parents of minor children have decided to terminate their marriage and or initiate paternity proceeds, the courts will order child custody and visitation based on all the information submitted by both parties with consideration for that is “in the best interest of the child.” While you may have strong opinions of what consider best for your child, be aware that the court is a neutral third party tasked with developing a plan that will optimize the child’s comfort and wellbeing. The feelings and expectations of the parents are not of paramount interest to the court, especially if they appear to conflict with the child’s needs.
When preparing to request a custody and visitation order from the court, it is important that you prioritize your child’s interests and wellbeing, while also accounting for evolving needs and future expectations. You should explore developing a parenting plan, either alone or in cooperation with the other parent. A parenting plan can map out a course of action that will allow you and the children of the relationship to better cope with the separation. In some cases, mediation can help parents quickly develop a mutually agreed upon parenting plan which can ease both parties and children during subsequent court proceedings.
When attempting to work out a parenting schedule, aim for cooperation and calm. Try to remove any feelings of animosity or defensiveness when communicating with the other parent, and try to keep an open mind. While you may not be able to agree on an ideal parenting plan, if you keep the lines of communication open you will have a better chance of coming to a decision that is acceptable to both parents while also helping the child cope with separated parents.