For decades, horror stories have gone around about legal battles over child custody in the courtroom. It doesn't matter if you are wealthy or not -- child custody battles can be a major source of frustration for anyone. There are now a lot of former couples who skip the court battle and come up with their own child custody agreement. Here are three benefits of doing just that.
1. The outcome is decided by both of you instead of a judge.
One of the biggest drawbacks to going through a court battle for child custody is that you have no control over the outcome. The judge decides what is best for the children and you aren't likely to change his or her mind at that time.
When you create your own child custody agreement, you and your ex sit down and decide what is best together. You will likely do this through mediation, unless you are on friendly terms with your ex. A mediator is a neutral third party who just wants to come up with the best compromise for everyone involved. They don't benefit by helping one of you more than the other one.
Of course, the key here is compromise. You are both going to need to compromise on some things in order to reach an amicable agreement that works for both of you, as well as the kids.
2. You can involve the children in determining living arrangements and visitation.
Some children are attached to one particular parent over the other. While a judge won't consider such things in determining child custody until a child has reached a certain age, you and your ex can keep it in mind when you come up with your own agreement.
Many children tend to feel that divorce is their fault and that they have no say over what happens to them going forward. Of course, you don't want to bring them to mediation in case there are any arguments, but you can ask them about their desires before you go.
For instance, your son may be concerned that you won't allow his dad to have him for visitation on weekends whenever there is a scout camping trip. You can assure your child that both of you will do everything you can to keep any traditions like that intact when you make the custody agreement.
Another thing to think about is the full-time living arrangements in regards to residency requirements for school. If you have to move outside their school district, but the child doesn't want to change schools, you may need to consider allowing the child to live with the other parent so they can continue going to the school they love.
3. You can save a lot of time and money by not going through a court battle.
The cost of battling for child custody in court varies depending on several different factors, such as the cost for your attorney and court costs in your town. The longer the court battle goes on, the more you are going to pay. It can take anywhere from several days to several months to get the matter settled in the courtroom. As you can imagine, the costs associated with that can be staggering.
If you come up with your own child custody agreement outside the courtroom, your costs can be cut significantly. As long as you don't have your divorce attorney attend any mediation session with you, all you have to worry about is your share of the mediation fee and the cost to file the agreement in court.
Coming up with your own agreement can also drastically cut down the amount of time it takes to reach an agreement. More often than not, mediators aim to have you both reach an agreement during the first session. That first session could take several hours, but it's better than having to pay to go to court for several days or months. Even if you have to go to several sessions with the mediator, it will still save you a lot of time and money versus going to court.