Opting for a collaborative divorce to customize child custody

Couples ready to call it quits on their marriage may now do so without the conflict and drama of a Pennsylvania courtroom battle. Keystone State lawmakers passed House Bill 1644 in 2018 to help facilitate the process for dissolving a marriage quickly. When spouses realize that they no longer serve each other’s needs and can make custody and support arrangements on their own, they may find the collaborative process beneficial. 

The biggest challenge for many families is deciding who will take custody of the children and how to schedule the noncustodial parent’s visitation rights. As noted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the collaborative divorce process allows a couple to customize visitation rights and divide property to reflect their requirements. 

By choosing to go through a traditional divorce through a court, the judge may decide on a formal approach in awarding child custody, assets or property. Oftentimes, things may become contentious when one spouse wishes to receive a particular asset acquired during a marriage or desires to spend more time with the children. 

Creating a co-parenting or shared custody arrangement 

Generally, a family law judge determines child custody arrangements based on the court’s findings regarding the children’s needs and safety. Factors taken into consideration include siblings, distance between the parents’ residences, medical issues and history of alcohol or substance abuse. While a custody order must contain the judge’s reasoning for deciding on an arrangement, there is no set rule requiring that parents share equally in the responsibilities of raising their children. 

With a collaborative divorce approach, a couple may decide on their own how to split child-rearing responsibilities. If a child’s life events benefit from the input of both parents, an agreement may state the rights and extent of each parent’s involvement. A shared parenting agreement may also provide terms on how much each spouse contributes to a child’s medical, education and extracurricular activities. When completed correctly, the do-it-yourself method under collaborative law may prove to benefit spouses and their children equally.