Month: February 2019

Sharing Custody of Children Across All Ages and Stages

sharing custody When there are children involved in a divorce, it is unrealistic to expect that visitation arrangements will be set in stone throughout a child’s life. As the child grows from an infant to a teenager, parents will often make changes to child custody and visitation arrangements to meet their child’s needs. Parents who keep an open line of communication and are able to work together can often make appropriate changes simply by talking to the other parent. However, sometimes, a parent may need to work with an attorney to change a custody agreement to respond to a child’s changing needs.

If you are divorcing and you have an infant, for example, the parenting plan may shape up to include a non-custodial parent having more frequent, albeit shorter visits, instead of every other weekend. Generally, shorter visits may work best for infants, especially those who are nursing, but if you choose to alternate weekends and homes, be prepared to be flexible if a baby is having difficulty.

Toddlers are going through a lot of changes and can be sensitive to changes in their environment and shifting between caregivers. Separation anxiety can be made easier by building in more time for transitions and having regular contact with both parents. Communication between parents is key so that the approach to discipline, sleep schedules and other issues are relatively consistent for the child’s benefit.

When your child reaches preschool age, they will be more verbal and cognitive and can often begin to handle a typical visitation schedule, such as spending alternate weekends at the other parent’s home although a gradual approach is probably best. It is helpful if the other parent routinely has a weekly in- person contact with the child and that the child is able to communicate with either parent by telephone when in different settings.

When a child heads off to elementary school, the parents will want to make sure that school attendance is a priority. It is important that a child gets plenty of rest on school nights so overnights will likely be confined to weekends and holidays unless the parents live in close proximity to one another and the school. With the added responsibility of school, dialing down disruptions may require flexibility on the parents’ parts when working out a visitation schedule.

During the tween years, kids will likely be involved in more activities and have friends they want to hang out with while continuing to need a close relationship with both parents. You will want to continue to follow a schedule of course, but making sure both parents have built in time with the child and can share in their new interests is key.

The teen years requires more input from your child regarding the visitation schedule. Independence is important at this age and a teen will likely have more demands on their time such as homework, a job, friends, and other activities, in addition to an ongoing relationship with his or her parents. You will have to find a balance by supporting your child’s lifestyle but letting them know you both want to spend time with him or her even if it’s a matter of reserving a weekend or a couple of afternoons a month to spend with a parent.

Just because your child is 18, it is not over by a long shot. Adult children still need the love, support and continued presence of their parents. Parents should continue to show respect to the other parent in the child’s presence and both make an effort to be involved in their child’s adult life.

When trying to reach a custody and visitation arrangement in a divorce, it is important to be sensitive to your changing needs as they progress through childhood into adulthood.  If you are considering divorce and have concerns about child custody and visitation contact the Wisconsin family law attorneys of Probst Law Offices at 414-210-3135.

 

 

 

Keeping Your Wisconsin Divorce Settlement Agreement on Track

divorce settlement agreement The heart of a Wisconsin divorce settlement agreement will address issues of child custody and visitation, marital property division, spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support. Many hope to reach a settlement to avoid going to court, but it often takes a skilled negotiator to make it happen if the parties do not agree on the issues. This is where an experienced Wisconsin divorce attorney can help.

Before sitting down at the table with your spouse and his or her attorney, you and your divorce lawyer will plan the meeting, which often includes an agenda, preferably in writing. Your attorney will often work through less contentious issues first to establish a cooperative tone and move into more heated issues as the meeting progresses. It goes without saying that if you start with the sore point, you will get nowhere on the other issues. However, if you work out the bulk of the issues and then tackle points of strong disagreement, your spouse may be more willing to try and work it out in the spirit of continued cooperation.

A skilled negotiator will help keep the focus on the issues, not in taking positions. For example, if you and your spouse are discussing who will pay for the children’s college educations, the issue is really the cost of college and how to finance it, not a battle over whether your kid should be able to attend the priciest institution.  In the same example, if your spouse wants you to pay for half of the kids college tuition, but you do not feel that you should have to pay anything, negotiations will likely break down. It is much better to remain flexible as you work through the issues and, in this case, perhaps offering to pay a third or making your contribution contingent upon your income when the children enter school will keep negotiations on track.

Another area where couples may not see eye to eye is marital property division, but again flexibility when trying to decide who gets what will go a long way. If you have your heart set on keeping the vintage car, for example, then be prepared to trade something of roughly equal value to achieve your goal. Before sitting down, decide what you want to keep and what you are willing to trade in return to keep the discussion moving.

Sometimes, couples cannot agree on all issues but are able to get a large part of the agreement worked out before heading to court saving them time and money. The best approach in any Wisconsin divorce settlement agreement is to work a skilled negotiator – your family law attorney – who can advocate your position while working toward an agreement you can both feel good about. Contact the Southeastern Wisconsin family law attorneys of Probst Law Offices for more information about the divorce settlement process at 414-210-3135.