Unless there is a serious issue, you will be sharing child custody with your co-parent in some way. This is not a problem for most parents because there is still some goodwill with the other parent. If you and your ex do not get along, you must find your way to peace. A peaceful (or at least non-fighting) relationship will help you and your children navigate life after the divorce is over.
What is Child Custody?
Pennsylvania has two types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is your ability to make important decisions concerning your child. They could concern education, healthcare, or religious upbringing. Courts award sole or shared legal custody (the more common arrangement).
Physical custody is the right to have your child live or be with you. There are different types of physical custody:
- Sole: One parent has exclusive physical custody.
- Primary: The child mostly lives with one parent, and generally, the other parent gets partial or supervised custody.
- Shared: The child spends roughly the same time with each parent.
- Partial: The child spends less than half the time with a parent.
- Supervised physical custody: A third party must be present for all visits between a parent and their child. This may happen if the parent has psychological or substance abuse problems. If this goes well, the parent may next get partial, unsupervised physical custody.
The law encourages custody arrangements where both parents are part of a child’s life as long as it is in his or her best interest.
How Do Child Custody Cases Proceed?
Child custody disputes can become very emotional and heated. A parent may be angry about the relationship’s breakup and try to punish the other by trying to prevent or limit their child custody rights.
This can actually hurt your chances of a favorable custody outcome. A parent’s willingness to share custody is often a factor in their favor when a judge decides who should get what kind of custody. The more you want it all to yourself (without justification), the more you harm your case.
Like all family law disputes, child custody cases are overwhelmingly resolved through negotiation. Some cases take longer to resolve than others, the emotional sparks fly more in some more than others, and sometimes mediation helps the parties reach a resolution.
But no matter how you cut it, nearly all child custody disputes are solved through negotiations. Chances are yours will, too, so why not give it a good faith, honest effort?
Why Should You Negotiate Your Child Custody Dispute?
There are many benefits to this approach:
- A court battle can strain even the most positive relationships between parents. Although negotiations can be stressful, they allow parents to maintain open lines of communication, fostering a cooperative environment that is crucial for co-parenting.
- Negotiation empowers parents to prioritize their children’s needs. A judge will not have an intimate knowledge of the family dynamics that parents possess. Through negotiation, parents can craft a custody agreement that accommodates their child’s unique needs, preferences, and routines resulting in a more tailored arrangement.
- Child custody battles can be emotionally draining for all parties involved, especially the child. Negotiating a settlement outside of the courtroom can mitigate the emotional toll. This approach tends to be less confrontational and reduces the stress for both parents and children.
- Legal proceedings can be expensive. Negotiation is usually a more cost-effective option than prolonged court battles. Parents can shorten the process, saving themselves time, energy, grief, and legal fees.
Do not leave it to a judge. It never works out quite how you think it will. Why do more parents negotiate child custody settlements than use litigation to resolve the issue? The benefits outweigh the costs.
Child Custody Attorneys You Can Trust
Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. attorneys will work with you to negotiate a resolution to help you achieve your goals, protect your rights, and serve your child’s best interests. If you have questions about custody issues or need legal representation, call us at (215) 752-6200 today.