Child Custody Advice
A list of resources to try when seeking advice about your custody case. Also includes explanations of commonly used legal terminology.
Knowing where to go for custody advice is important when you are involved in a custody situation. The following resources can help you as you figure out your custody arrangements.
Child custody software
Custody X Change is software that creates professional custody agreements and custody schedules.
Family law attorney
You can hire a family law attorney to help you create and file a custody agreement. The lawyer will do most of the work for you and will make sure that you follow the custody laws of your state. Often, if you have a high conflict situation you need a lawyer.
In mediation, both parents sit down with a neutral third party to create a parenting plan. This can be helpful because you can avoid custody court and come to an agreement that everyone supports.
Many local courts will have information about the child custody rules and regulations of the county along with resources to help you file for custody.
There are many websites that offer custody advice. You can look online and find many answers to your questions, as well as find out your state custody laws and look for support groups.
Your court or community may offer parenting classes that can help you learn how to help your children adjust to a separation or divorce. Often, these classes offer good advice for communicating with your children, working with the other parent, and coming up with good parenting arrangements.
Parenting support groups
If you look around in your area, you can probably find a parenting support group that can help you handle the challenges of being in a custody situation. Talking with other parents who are in a similar situations can give you ideas and help you feel more confident about handling your own situation.
As you begin your custody proceeding, you need to know some of the basic child custody terms. Here are some common phrases and definitions that are used in custody situations.
This is the authority that you and the other parent have to make major decisions for and about your children (decisions about education, medical care, religion, etc).
This is the physical time that you and the other parent have with your children and the time you spend physically taking care of your children.
Joint and sole custody
In a joint custody situation the parents share the responsibilities of legal and physical custody. In a sole custody situation, one parent is given legal custody and physical custody and the other parent has visitation rights.
Custody and visitation schedule
This is the schedule that shows when each parent has time with the children. Generally, parents make a custody calendar that shows where the child is every day of the year.
Custody agreement / parenting plan
This is a document where you outline how you and the other parent will continue to provide and care for your child after you are separated. For your plan, you will want to create a custody schedule, decide about legal custody, and think about any other parenting provisions or rules you want to include.
Usually parenting plans work best when both parents agree on the plan and support it. This means that you should try to work with the other parent in creating a plan that everyone likes.
When you and the other parent agree on the plan, you can submit it to the court and it will be accepted. If you and the other parent are simply not able to come to an agreement, you can go to court and the judge will determine your custody agreement. Once the judge has made an agreement official (sometimes called a custody order), you are required by law to follow it.
In general, a custody agreement should contain:
Information about physical custody
Usually parents fulfill this requirement by making a visitation schedule that shows when each parent has time with the children. The schedule should include the residential schedule, a holiday schedule, a school break or vacation schedule, and any special events.
Information about legal custody
You need to specify how you and the other parent will divide and share the responsibility to make decisions about your child.
Information about child support and finances
Within your plan, you should decide how you and the other parent will handle the financial responsibility of your child. Along with child support information, you need to come up with a way to handle extra expenses for the child.
You can include any additional parenting rules or provisions in your plan. Some common provisions include a process for resolving future disputes, a method for making changes to the plan, information about transportation for exchanges, etc.
Be sure to find out the custody laws for your state about parenting plans. Some states have specific requirements for the plan, and other states give you a lot of flexibility. Once you know the rules for your state, you can get started.
Custody X Change is software that has been developed for the purpose of creating custody agreements and parenting plans quickly and easily.
With Custody X Change, you can:
- Make a custody and visitation schedule with holidays, vacation time, and special events
- Add important provisions and stipulations to your agreement
- Calculate your visitation timeshare calculation for your child support calculation
- Print documents including a calendar of the custody schedule, a written report of the schedule, a list of the provisions, and a detailed timeshare report
- Export all of the documents to Word, PDF, and Excel
- Sync your custody calendar to your Blackberry, iPhone, Palm/PDA, Outlook, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, Windows Live, etc
- Keep a custody journal and track actual visitation time
- Print a report that shows the difference between actual and scheduled visitation time
- Modify your agreement in court using the documentation from the actual time
- Save money in attorney and legal fees