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3 things to remember in child custody cases

Child custody is one of the most difficult agreements to work on during a divorce. While you do have the option of going through a trial and letting the court decide who is going to play what roles in the child's life, you also have the option of going through mediation to come up with a plan. Mediation enables you and your ex to work with a third-party to try to work out the details of the arrangement so that you can use your intimate knowledge of the situation to make decisions.

Focus on the child

Your focus must be on your child. This might sound simple; however, it is very easy for parents to start using the agreement regarding the child as a bargaining chip for other areas of the divorce. Instead of falling into that downward spiral, remember that the child custody agreement should be one that allows your child to thrive, feel secure, and build important relationships.

Keeping your child at the front of the matter can help you to truly focus on what is best for him or her. If you opt to use mediation to resolve child custody issues, the mediator will likely steer you back to the focus if things start to deteriorate.

Cover holiday schedules

The holidays, especially those that are important to you, should be covered in the child custody agreement. There are several ways that you can arrange holidays. One is to alternate holidays. This would mean that you get your child for his or her birthday one year and your ex gets him or her the next year.

Another option is to think about which holidays you can agree upon. You may love Halloween, but your ex hates it. Your ex's family does a big Thanksgiving, but your family doesn't. In that case, you might be able to work out the agreement so you have your child every Halloween and your ex has the child every Thanksgiving.

A third option would be for you and your ex to share holidays. In this case, you would have to make plans that both you and your ex can enjoy with your child. Of course, this option only works if you and your ex can get along.

Include some flexibility

Nothing is going to go the way it should 100 percent of the time. With that in mind, you should build some flexibility into the child custody schedule. This is especially important if you or ex has a job that is unpredictable or that has a changing schedule. Doctors, military members, and swing shift workers are some examples. In these cases, you would need to build the child custody agreement so that the parent with the changi ng schedule would still get to spend quality time with the child. This can be complicated, but it is something that can usually be hashed out during mediation.

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