Child Custody is probably one of the most emotionally charged areas of the law. This is particularly so because the issue is usually tacked on with the dissolution of marriage. Thus, parents are probably at their most vulnerable when attempting to create a solid parenting plan that will carry them into the future.

Thus, it is important to keep in mind that although you are legally separating yourself from your former spouse, you are still going to co-parent with them. When developing your parenting plan, I recommend attempting to create as much value as possible. In other words, try to discover what nuances are more important to the other parent, and perhaps consider granting their wishes on certain matters in order to bargain for what matters most to you. Of course this isn't always possible, but your approach to the matter can sometimes have an impact on the interactions that follow.

This list touched upon some of the core areas that parents will have to come to an agreement on during custody proceedings. As a general matter, making as little change in routine as possible is usually a good way to provide the children with a sense of stability in the otherwise tumultuous matter.

  1. School--Will the child(ren) continue to attend the same school? What about summer camps, during vacations, etc? If the child(ren) attend(s) private school, who will pay the tuition? College? Tutoring?
  2. Religious Beliefs--How will the children be raised? What if parents' religious beliefs change?
  3. Health Insurance or other matters--who will provide health insurance for the child(ren)? Will they be covered by both parents? Who is responsible for paying the monthly premium, if any?
  4. Life Insurance--Typically the parent who provides child support will take out a life insurance policy with the child(ren) as beneficiaries.
  5. Holidays--Many families alternate odd and even years for major holidays, but perhaps some holidays are more sentimental to parents than others. Parents can agree that children spend the morning with one parent, and the evening with the other. Trips during these times can also be considered.
  6. Birthdays--These are typically addressed similarly to holidays.
  7. Contingency plans--Back up parenting plans, such as when one parent will not be able to stay with the child during a scheduled time. Who is to be called in the event of an emergency? Who can authorize medical treatment?

These are just some of the considerations that you will discuss and decide upon with your attorney and ultimately spouse. You can read more about Child Custody or find a qualified Child Custody Attorney.