If you have children and you have decided to get a divorce, you have to put the needs of your children first. There are a number of ways couples divide up custody and visitation, and it works best if you think about an arrangement that would provide the children with the most stability. As long as the arrangement is consistent, children will be able to adapt to their new schedule. If both parents have been actively involved in their lives, it will be important for both parents to remain an active component as much as a reasonable schedule will allow.
When Both Parents are Active and Capable
When the children have a close relationship with both parents, a 50/50 split in parenting time often works well. Some parents choose to parent one week on, one week off, while others split up the week as evenly as possible. While it may be difficult for children to adjust to two households, this arrangement will give both parents equal time to spend with the children. This type of custody is called joint physical and joint legal custody, and it is an arrangement found often.
When the Children Have Been Living with One Parent
If the children are not bonded with one parent, or one is not able to take care of the children, a primary custodian will be established. The parent who has been caring for the children will have sole physical custody, and both parents may share legal custody. This means that the children will live with the physical custodian most of the time and have a visitation schedule with the other parent. If both parents share legal custody, then both must agree on important decisions regarding the medical care and education of the children.
If a Parent Goes Missing
If a parent is missing, they may end up losing their parental rights completely. The parent who is present will have sole legal and physical custody, at least temporarily. If the second parent shows up, they may be able to petition the court for some form of custody or visitation. The bottom line is, the children won't have to deal with huge changes in their daily schedule until they are ready to do so. A parent who has been missing is not granted immediate shared custody, but will instead begin with small amounts of visitation.
A custody plan can take on many forms. As long as the children are put first, the plan should work well for everyone involved. For more information, contact a family lawyer, such as J. Scott Braden.