If you and the other parent of your children are separating, it is important to make sure that you are hashing out all of the details of the child custody arrangement. This is done with the help of a family lawyer, but you will want to come to your consultation with a list of things you want to ensure that he or she will address for you on your behalf. Some of those things include:
Legal Versus Physical Custody
In many states, you can have one parent keeping physical custody of the child, but both parents share legal custody. What this does is establish where the child will live for the majority of the time if the time is not split 50/50, without either parent giving up their legal rights to the child. With legal custody, you would still have just as much say in the important decisions that may need dealt with throughout a child's life such as medical treatments, schooling, religious studies, and relocation out of state. You want to make sure that your family lawyer is clearly addressing this.
It is simply not enough to agree to an "every weekend" or "every other weekend" visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. Things come up, such as emergencies and other obligations for the parents and child alike. It is because of this that you want to have a make-up schedule plan noted in your child custody agreement. This ensures that the non-custodial parent and the child still have their visitation time. Holidays are another important issue to have addressed in the legal documents for custody. You can have your family lawyer talk with the other parent, or their lawyer, to discuss whether splitting each holiday day down the middle is best, or if it should be a rotating schedule. One year, Christmas at your house and then it will be at the other parent's house the following year. Summer breaks from school should also be talked about, as this can be a good time to have extended amounts of visitation for extra bonding and so you may be able to go on vacation together if you want.
Since this is such an important issue, you will want to make sure that you are discussing every scenario possible with your family lawyer. With all of your concerns on the table, he or she will know how to be present your needs.