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5 tips for working out child custody agreements

When parents work together to come up with a child custody agreement, they consider the child's desires and needs. One way that parents come to the terms of the agreement is through child custody mediation. This process lets the parents work with a third-party mediator to come up with an agreement. The court must approve the agreement after the parents sign it. Consider these tips when you are going through child custody mediation.

#1: Keep your child first

Your child must be at the heart of the negotiations. You must think about what your child needs and wants. This includes coming up with a schedule that enables your child to see both parents on a regular basis. If you and your ex can't work together, you can always have the court step in to decide what is best.

#2: Don't bring other matters into the negotiations

Don't use child custody mediation as a time to get back at your ex for things that happened during the marriage or divorce. Instead, the child custody mediation must focus strictly on your child and providing the opportunity to create and maintain meaningful relationships with both parents.

#3: Be willing to think outside of the box

Part of the reason child custody mediation works is because of negotiations. You should be willing to go through some give and take during the process. Make a list of points you are willing to remain flexible on and those that you won't negotiate at all. This is a starting point for the process, and you can refer to the list during the negotiations.

#4: Plan for vacations and holidays

Vacations and holidays often require a unique schedule. Be sure that you cover these terms in the child custody negotiations. This can save you time and effort later when you need to figure out who is going to spend holidays with your child or where your child will spend summer vacation.

#5: Decide who will make decisions

Decision making power is another area that you have to consider. Typically, you need to decide if you, your ex or both parents are going to make decisions about health care, education and religious matters. Each category can have a different arrangement. Be sure to include how emergency decisions should be handled. For example, if you have decision-making power for health care, you may need to note that if an emergency occurs, your ex can make the decision.

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