“We don’t need anything in writing.”
“We can figure it out.”
Which inevitably leads to, “he/she never let me see the kids when we agreed I could.”
Those are the most frequent phrases I hear when clients come in, sometimes years after splitting up with their ex. People think it will be easy to make informal, last-minute arrangements regarding child custody, missing the point that nothing gets emotions going quite like their children.
This is a time of year where none of us want to be separated from our families. A Christmas without the kids can be extremely lonely. Taking the appropriate action at the appropriate time can ensure you do not fall into that trap.
A common misconception about Court-imposed custody orders is that they are completely inflexible and must always be followed to the letter. On the contrary, the most successful orders are simply a fallback framework in case the parents disagree over who gets Christmas or whether one of them can take the kids to the beach for a week in July. A custody order will generally allow the parents to agree to whatever they want. Then, if they disagree, they must follow the specifics laid out in the order.
For example, if the custody order allows Dad to have the children at Thanksgiving and Mom at Christmas, there is nothing to prevent them from agreeing to swap the holidays (although this should be done in writing and with your attorney’s knowledge).
Custody orders also provide much more protection than simply allocating when each parent gets the kids. For example, they might dictate how and when future boyfriends/girlfriends can be introduced to the kids, or that the kids should be protected from second-hand smoke or alcohol abuse, or even that a reluctant parent must take the kids to their after-school or weekend activities.
Most of all, they provide stability during an unstable time. Young children often do not understand why their parents cannot live together and are heartbroken when their parents split up. A large part of that is not knowing when they will see each parent or where they will be sleeping from week to week. A custody order helps kids know what to expect in their day-to-day lives.
This is a time of year in which we have three major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year) within six weeks. A well-written custody order can help ensure both parents get the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with the children.
Another common misunderstanding is that a custody order has to be created by a judge. The reality is that most of them are created by the parents and their attorneys, and simply ratified by a judge. The best thing about that is that parents are deciding their own schedules and that of their children, rather than leaving it up to a judge to make decisions about parents and children they do not know.
At the Thomas A. Kauffman Law Offices, we understand that your children are the most precious gifts in your lives. We offer a complimentary consultation, at which we will discuss the most efficient and cost-effective way possible to secure your custody rights and make sure that holidays stressing about custody arrangements are a thing of the past.