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Can parents decide their own child custody arrangement?

Raising a child is an absolutely joy, but that does not mean that daily life is easy. It is a complicated mess of baseball games, flute lessons, dance classes, birthday parties and after-school study sessions, and you have to arrange all of these into your own work and family schedule. Simply put, only you know what really works for your family.

Whether you are going through a divorce or want to establish a legal arrangement as unmarried parents, you and the other parent can take control in child custody matters. Family court judges often encourage parents to attempt to find an arrangement on their own, but he or she will have to determine if it is in the best interests of the child and approve the final agreement.

Even when parents can agree on all aspects of child custody, they should still consult with an attorney to ensure that they do not make any mistakes or miss any details. Of course, it always helps to have some ideas in mind when you walk into the office. You can begin by asking yourself a few questions, such as:

  • Do you want a strict every other week schedule, every other weekend or a schedule with more flexibility?
  • Do you and the other parent live close or will exchanges require some extra planning?
  • Are there going to be transportation costs, and who will pay for them?
  • Do you both live in the same school district?
  • Do your children have busy extra-curricular schedules? What are they?
  • How will you handle school breaks or holidays?
  • Do you both work, and what are your regular hours? Is there room for flexibility?
  • How do you want to handle emergency calls from school?
  • Do you or the other parent have strong opinions about religion, education or other important issues?
  • Who regularly cares for the daily needs of the child?
  • Do you want the child to have a single residence during the school week?
  • How do you want to handle communications about important school events?
  • Are there any health concerns? Who will pay for the health insurance?
  • If your children are older, do they have any preferences?
  • Do you want to put any restrictions in place concerning meeting new romantic partners?
  • Anything else that is particular to your family's situation.

Having a deeper understanding of your goals for the child custody arrangement can help the process go smoothly, saving on time and money.

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