Dealing with child custody can be one of the most difficult elements of divorce for California parents. This can be the case even when they are both committed to successful negotiations. However, parents can reach an agreement by focusing on the best interests of the child instead of themselves.
Advantages of negotiation
There are situations in which going to court to determine child custody cannot be avoided. This might happen if one parent is worried about abuse or abduction or if the parents simply cannot come to an agreement. However, successful negotiation is possible even when parents initially both go into the conversation believing they are the best choice to have custody, and this provides a better foundation for a good co-parenting relationship.
How to negotiate
In order to get the best outcome in creating a child custody and visitation schedule, parents should start by being realistic about what the child needs and what they can provide. It is likely that each parent has certain strengths that they bring to the parent-child relationship. They should look at these strengths as well as where each parent lives and the proximity to school and other activities, how much space each parent has, and how much time each parent has. This should be done while setting aside the idea of one parent “winning” and with an eye to making sure that the child has time with both parents.
Even if parents agree to share both physical and legal custody, they may determine through negotiations that it would be best for the child to spend more time with one of them because of logistics. Parents can work with their respective attorneys to put together a plan that works for both of them and their children. They should make sure that in addition to regular scheduling, it addresses where the child will spend vacations and holidays. In the plan, parents may also want to address any issues they are concerned about, such as screen time, to ensure that there are consistent rules and expectations between households.