When parents end their marriage or non-marital relationship a schedule needs to be created that allows both parties to continue to parent their children. Most people know the term”custody” but this topic is more complicated that the title of who has custody. Many people want an equal time or 50/50 custody arrangement. The Court is more interested in the schedule of the children than who has custody.
Focus on Creating Children’s Schedule
The law recognizes it is best if the parties can work out the schedule for the children. If the parties cannot resolve this own their own, the Court has methods to help, beginning with mandatory mediation. This is not optional; the law requires the parties must first try to mediate a schedule before the Court can made a decision. The Court even offers free mediation through Family Court Services.
Very young children usually see each parent several times each week. As the children get older the visits are usually longer, less frequent but still weekly. By the teen years the visits may be even longer. Many (but not most) high school age children may live with each parent in alternate weeks.
Difficult situations may require more creative approaches, which can include custody evaluations with trained mental health professionals. Resolution might also involve as appropriate parenting classes, substance abuse assessments or testing, anger management assessments or treatment, co-parent counseling or supervision of visits.
Don’t Forget Holidays and Vacations
The children’s schedule needs to address when they will be with each parent during the school year, non school times, major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mother and Fathers Day and vacations with each parent. Besides the specifics of the children’s schedule, the Court will convert this schedule into a percentage timeshare, which is a factor in setting child support.
Sorting Through Scheduling Difficulties
Potentially the setting of the children’s schedule can be the most difficult part of the case, but the Court considers it to be critical. Disputes about the children’s schedule can often reflect unresolved differences of the parties.
Besides experience in dealing with all aspects of custody and visitation I have experience in dealing with particularly difficult issues such as accusations of serious misconduct involving children.