Strategies to Minimize Animosity and Expense in a Custody Dispute
When you are involved in divorce proceedings and have minor children in the home, the custody of those children is typically the primary concern. You want what’s best for them, and you want to play a meaningful role in their growth and development.
You could take your ex to court, asking the court to issue an order granting you full custody. That may not be in your best interests, though, or in the best interests of your children. A contentious dispute over custody can put the children in the middle, leaving them feeling responsible for your differences. You don’t have to leave the determination of custody to the judge—you can secure full custody rights without going to court.
Negotiate a Custody Arrangement
If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, the best way to get full custody is to negotiate an arrangement that works for everyone. Be careful that you don’t go into this type of negotiation thinking primarily about winning. You’ll have a much better chance of getting full custody if:
- You can clearly show your ex that your children will have a greater opportunity to thrive if you have custody;
- You present your ex with a proposed visitation schedule that’s fair and that gives your ex reasonable time to build and maintain a strong relationship with your children; and
- You can demonstrate to your ex that granting you full custody will be to their benefit.
Though you may be able to negotiate the custody agreement on your own, you’ll almost always benefit from the involvement of an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer will have experience successfully negotiating “win-win” situations in custody matters. Furthermore, having a third party handle the negotiations can take much of the emotion out of the process.
Use Divorce Mediation to Get Full Custody of Your Children
Mediation offers an attractive and often important alternative to a negotiated settlement. In the mediation process, you and your ex will work with a neutral third party (the mediator), whose primary objective is to help the two of you find a mutually beneficial way to resolve your differences. Because the mediator is neutral, your ex may be more willing to engage in the process, as there won’t be concerns about bias or pressure to enter a settlement. A good mediator can help both of you leave your personal differences behind and focus on finding a solution that’s in the best interests of you and your children. Once you agree to terms in mediation, the agreement is committed to writing and approved by the court.
An Experienced Divorce Attorney Can Help with Your Custody Dispute
You don’t need to take your custody differences to court to get the outcome you want. With the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer, you may be able to negotiate a custody arrangement that meets your goals, or you may be able to work cooperatively with your ex in divorce mediation to get full custody of your minor child. The only involvement of the court in such situations is the review and approval of your agreement by the judge.