Deciding child custody can be one of the most challenging parts of divorce. Ultimately, it is better for the parents to come to an agreement together.
However, when emotions are running high, making this decision is more difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to make the process easier and less stressful.
Understand the state’s guidelines
According to the Indiana Judicial Branch, the state recognizes that, in most situations, children are better off when they have continuing and frequent contact with both parents. This means that joint custody is often what the courts order if the parents are unable to come to an agreement.
Knowing that joint custody is a probable outcome, parents should consider each of their schedules and figure out how to fairly share time with the children. The state also understands that children have special needs when they have divorced parents, and parents should design a parenting plan that addresses schedules, holidays, dispute resolution and other details regarding custody.
Consider the best interests of the child
Whether parents or the courts decide custody, the most important aspect is to consider what situation is best for the children. Along with considering the child’s specific needs, additional considerations include:
- Physical and mental health of all parties
- Ability of each parent to provide a safe home
- Current living situation
- Relationships with other family members
The state also considers the wishes of children once they reach a certain age and maturity.
Employ mediation assistance
FindLaw discusses that mediation is an effective tool when making custody determinations. A neutral mediator helps the parents discuss the issue in a non-adversarial manner. The end results are generally an agreed-to solution and better communication between the parents.