Although there can be situations in a child custody case that the court decides how you and your ex-spouse will share custody, it's common for you to have the opportunity to make this decision yourselves. Even if you aren't on good speaking terms, you should appreciate the opportunity to have your say in how you'll approach the joint custody of your children. It's common to have the children spend 50 percent of their time with each of you, but this doesn't mean that the custody schedule is as simple as you having them for a week and then your ex-spouse having them for a week. Bring in a child custody lawyer such as Cragun Law Firm so he can review all of your options with you. Here are some topics that you'll need to go over.
Your Work Schedules
Your work schedules can play a role in how you and your ex-spouse decide to set up your custody schedule. For example, if one of you works a rotational schedule in which you're working nights for one week and days for the other week, you may find that it makes sense for you to have your children when you're working days — as long as your ex-spouse is content with having them on the other weeks. Not everyone works only from Monday to Friday, too. If one of you frequently works on the weekends, you'll need to consider this when you develop the custody schedule.
Your Children's Commitments
You'll also need to balance your children's pre-existing commitments to establish a custody schedule that doesn't interfere with whatever they have going on. For example, if your child plays sports every second week in a part of town that is closer to where one ex-spouse lives, it may make sense for that spouse to have custody on those weeks. Or, if a child has music lessons every second Saturday, the spouse who works on Saturdays likely shouldn't have custody on those weekends.
You should also discuss the importance of flexibility so that each of you can assist the other for the good of your children. For example, when one of you wishes to take a vacation, you should endeavor to do so during a week that you don't have custody. If one of you needs to be out of town for work on a week that you have custody, alert your ex-spouse as quickly as possible to see if he or she can be flexible and take the children for at least the days that you're out of town. You can each consult your custody attorneys to evaluate other strategies that can make this situation work out as smoothly as possible.