Its a hard decision. Who get’s the children. It doesn’t matter if you at married or not. When the relationship is “over”, you need to figure out what’s in the best interests of the children. What makes it doubly-hard is that you are probably not thinking as clearly as you should. Pain and frustration doesn’t mix well with logic and rational thought. That’s for sure!
Here are few things that I’ve learned over the last 25 years:
No matter what you think of your partner, the two of you are more likely to make a better decision on who gets the children than the Judge hearing your case. Pretty shocking, right? Well, don’t be so surprised! The Judge doesn’t know you, your partner or your children from a hole in the wall. Sure, the court will hear testimony about who has historically been the primary parent and which one of you the children are most closely bound. And no doubt the court will weigh heavily which partner is more likely to provide a stable home and encourage good relations between the children and the other parent. But can you really expect the Judge to get that decision right when all she sees are two well-dressed people on their best behavior? Particularly when both their testimonies have been coached for weeks … If you are not afraid the court will make the “wrong” decision, you should be.
I always tell my clients that one of the most important things necessary for a child to flourish and be happy is to have the support and love from both parents. That requires that you put your feelings in check and work together as parents to raise your children. After all, there was a time when you felt your partner was “good enough” to have a child with, right? So, try and work with each other to work out a time-sharing schedule that is best for the children. That may mean sharing time equally. Typically, that’s broken down into weekly segments with one parent having the children for 7 consecutive days with “pick-up” by the other parent at a pre-determined time and place. It can be ideal if both parents get along well and are “adult-enough” to put their feelings aside and focus on the children’s well-being. Mediation can help the parties’ work together to work out a parenting plan that works best for the children.
There’s also a pragmatic reason why equal time sharing may be an acceptable alternative to fighting it out in court. Let me explain. Okay, the court has awarded you with “primary custody” [we don’t actually call it that nowadays but anyhow …]. What does that really mean. Basically, it means that as “primary parent” you will have weekdays and every other weekend with holidays and summers essentially being split equally. The court may “tweak” the schedule a bit, but in terms of time, it amounts to about 60% of the year with your children. Obviously, that means the other parent has the rest of the year – somewhere around 40% of the year [again, depending on how much “tweaking” takes place]. If you actually compare the days over the course of the year, the “primary parent” at most gets about 40 extra days than the “secondary parent.” Well, think about this: If time-sharing was equal, you would both get approximately 180 days per year, right? So, if we go from “standard” to “equal” visitation, the “primary parent” is only “giving up” about 40 days and the “secondary parent” is only “getting” an additional 40 days … I bet you very few attorneys that you consult with will point out this point!
Ask yourself this question: Are your differences with the other parent so insurmountable that it “pays” to spend the college fund to battle over 40 days? And if your relationship is in trouble now, just imagine what it will be like after the court rules in your favor and now the other parent feels that it is all your fault and that you are responsible for “destroying” his relationship with the children. Do you really think the chances of co-parenting just went up? Hardly! All that’s been accomplished is turning someone who could have been a partner in raising the children into a permanent enemy. I wonder just how many times the two of you will battle in court over the years trying to settle the score … How do you think that works out for your children?
I hope that this blog has been of some help. I certainly know professionally and personally what its like to deal with painful issues like child visitation and time-sharing. And don’t even get me started on child support! Ugh!!! I’m here for you. In the last 25 years, I’ve handled thousands of family law cases ranging from complex trials involving alimony, distribution of marital and non-marital assets and debts, child custody and child support to simplified actions that are settled out of court and involve just a short five-minute hearing before the court. Either way, I’m happy to help.
Just call our office at 561-255-9350 for your free consult. If you want to learn more about our firm and our divorce practice, just check out our website at Kranzlawfirm.com. For an objective take on our firm, with plenty of client reviews, go to Avvo.com. Its a legal website that rates attorneys and allows clients to weigh-in with their own experience. We have no control over the content.
Best of luck!