If you and your spouse are planning to separate, the best way to plan for custody of your children is to come to an agreement with your spouse about child custody in a written marital separation agreement. This agreement is like a contract that includes issues such as custodial rights and a visitation schedule.
However, different states have different approaches to arranging child custody during marital separation:
- Some states do not let parents arrange child custody in the agreement at all
- Some states require parents to use a parenting plan agreement, which is separate from the marital separation agreement
- Some states require mediation to create a child custody arrangement
- All courts have the authority to modify how child custody is arranged, even if the marital separation agreement says that it cannot be changed by court order
If the parents cannot agree on how child custody should be arranged, a court will create its own custody arrangement that the parents must follow.
After separating from your spouse, many aspects of your lives will have changed. Things to take into consideration include:
- The best interests of your children
- Your children’s schedules
- Your and your spouse’s schedules
- How you and your spouse will resolve disagreements over childrearing decisions
Although separated spouses hopefully can work out child custody issues peacefully, child custody negotiations can become a battle when spouses cannot come to an agreement. A child custody attorney can advise you of your rights and help you maintain custody of your child.