Child custody is one of the most contentious issues that needs to be resolved during the divorce process. Two people who are unable to get along, and who have decided it is so unpleasant to live together they simply cannot do it any longer, are expected to work together to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children.
If the parents can’t set aside their differences to be able to co-parent, they will find that their decision-making authority will be turned over to a stranger, who doesn’t know them and has never met their children. At most temporary hearings, the family law judge will have about 20 minutes to make decisions about this family’s future. And if the litigation machine gets rolling, the conflict between spouses will escalate until the parents are spending their child’s education money on the legal battle. But it does not have to be this way.
Parents Can Make Child Custody Work
Texas law encourages parents to work together in making their own parenting plan. Some important considerations they need to consider while developing a workable parenting plan include:
- Which parent will provide the child’s primary residence?
- How will the parents make important medical decisions?
- How will the parents handle educational or legal decisions?
- What possession schedule works best for the family in light of logistics, work schedules, etc.?
- How will the parents handle the child’s expenses?
- Which parent has the best private medical and dental insurance plan and how much does it cost?
The parents can and should negotiate between themselves. If that is difficult for them, which it often is, they can negotiate with the help of a parenting facilitator, collaborative team, mediator, or family friend. If they cannot do this, the judge can and will carve out a plan for them to the best of their ability.
More Help for Parents Who Cannot Agree on a Parenting Plan
Take a parenting class. In a contested case, where parents cannot agree on what is in the best interest of their children, they are often court-ordered to take a parenting class. This can be done in person or online. It may seem a bit silly for parents to have to take such a course, but many parents benefit from it and are then able to set aside their differences and work together to put their own parenting plan together without court intervention.
Co-parenting therapy. There is always a parenting facilitator or parenting coordinator who can help parents work together to create a parenting plan. There also apps, including Our Family Wizard and AppClose, that help parents deal with their communication problems regarding their children.