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Planning can help head off problems with child custody decisions

When minor children are caught between divorcing parents, it is common for the marital dissolution process to run aground. Pennsylvania residents who have been through a divorce can testify that child custody decisions can certainly prolong a divorce, especially if neither party is willing to cooperate. However, if a couple cannot reach a child custody arrangement on their own, a judge will decide the issue for them.

As a divorce unfolds, spouses often overlook one important thing that could make the process run more smoothly and make decisions more palatable: planning. As emotions run high, many spouses find it difficult to reach an agreement on a custody plan that puts the best interests of the child first and foremost. This, however, will be the basis for any decisions made by the court if there is no arrangement by the time the divorce lands in the courtroom.

By planning, each spouse will be able to understand the options and determine which one best fits the circumstances. Planning also allows each spouse to find a suitable backup plan. Once both spouses have created plans, they can propose them to each other during negotiations.

For example, if both parties have been equally involved in a child's upbringing, shared custody might be the best option. However, if one parent spends little time with the child and expresses no willingness to help raise the child, sole legal and physical custody should go to the other parent. The final determination will depend on the particular circumstances of the people involved.

Source: Huffingtonpost.com, "Planning pays off," Fred Silberberg, Oct. 21, 2014

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