When Parents With Joint Custody Have Strong Differences of Opinion, Who Wins?
There’s more to a child custody dispute than how much time you get to spend with your kids. If you have serious disagreements with your spouse about how your children should be raised, you have to settle those questions as well and put in place a mechanism for resolving conflicts in the future. The court can be heavy-handed and decide to give one parent full legal custody, which carries with it primary decision-making authority over matters related to the children’s health, education and welfare. But what if joint custody is in the best interest of your children?
Parents with joint legal custody who cannot agree on important matters affecting the child’s health and welfare may have to engage in some type of litigation process: mediation, arbitration, or a trial in family court. But that’s certainly not practical on a regular basis. It’s generally more appropriate to negotiate stipulations in your marital settlement that say which parent will have the final word in which situations. Then, when disagreements arise, you already have a mechanism in place for resolving the situation.
Stipulations might include:
- Agreements to consult and coordinate on certain issues before rendering a decision
- Giving final say over the child’s health to a parent with a medical background
- Giving final say over issues related to a child’s special needs to the parent with specialized training who has been the primary caretaker
- Giving final say on gender-specific issues to the parent of the same gender
- Giving final say on religious matters to the parent who is more religious
- Agreeing to arbitrate disputes before a specific person
The key to negotiating a successful parenting agreement is knowing where your disagreements lie and being assertive about your rights as a parent. If you fail to resolve disagreements during the negotiation phase, you may find yourself in a bind when the court issues your divorce decree.
If you want to arrive at a comprehensive marital dissolution settlement, learn how Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc. can work for you. Call us at 1.631.683.8172 or contact our Long Island office online.