Divorce is already complicated enough—from dividing assets to reworking estate plans, there is a ton of work involved. Children add another level of complexity to the entire divorce process, which is why assistance from an Orange County child custody attorney is a must.
The most complicated divorce hearings are when an infant is involved. Degerming what is best for the child isn’t as straightforward for a baby as it is for a young adult or even a toddler.
Here are some things you should consider when thinking about the best custody arrangement for infants:
The Mother Doesn’t Automatically Get Custody
It’s true that in the past, courts often favored simply giving custody of any infants directly to the mother. The idea was that mom might be breastfeeding, had a greater aptitude for child care, and would be the easier choice.
Nowadays, the courts don’t think this way as much. There may be some bias towards the mom, but judges are more likely to give both parents a fair-chance of gaining custody. The court will look at each parent’s relationship with the infant along with each parent’s home life, career, and other factors.
As an Orange County child custody attorney will tell you, it’s typically better for parents to come up with a custody plan without taking things to court. This is not only encouraged by states like California but can lead to a better arrangement for everyone involved.
The court will try its best to rule in favor of what’s best for the infant, but that may not be the best situation for the parents.
Making A Custody Arrangement
Contrary to popular belief, custody arrangements don’t necessarily have to happen inside of a courtroom. The courts may have to approve the deal the parents come up with, but that’s usually not a problem for a well-thought plan.
When parents come up with a compromise, it saves them the time, money, and emotional expense of dragging everything through the court. It also helps parents learn to co-parent better from the earliest stages of the child’s life.
A parenting plan has to consist of two parts:
- Time-share. Involves how the parents split time with the infant. This could involve everything from how often the child moves from house to house to when visitation occurs and for how long.
- Decision-making. Refers to the ability to legally make decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions can deal with everything from healthcare, education, religion, and more.
The best parenting plan comes from equal input from both parents. It should be as detailed as possible and cover all possible angles, including a breakdown of each holiday, vacation, and so on.
There is no such thing as too much detail. This kind of planning helps in case there are unforeseen situations in the future or if one person isn’t doing their part.
It’s often wise to work with a child support lawyer in Orange County to create an agreeable and adequate plan for both parties. Your lawyer can also help you work through any unique circumstances or catch items you may have missed on your own.
Once an agreement has been made, both of the parents will sign it and submit it to the court. The judge will review it and sign off on it as well. Now you just need to fill it with the court, and it becomes the official custody order.
Custody Arrangements That Work
There is no one-size-fits-all custody agreement that works for everyone and every situation, especially when an infant is concerned. For example, it may not be possible for the father to take the infant too far away for a long period of time if the child is breastfeeding.
The mother may decide to pump in order to provide milk for the infant while they are with the father. The family may also decide to use formula so everyone can have equal time with the baby.
Even though every situation is unique and different, families will have varying needs. There are some general approaches that seem to help create a fair arrangement like:
- Coming up with a plan that maximizes parental time with the baby. That means working around both of your work schedules, so the infant is always with one of the parents when possible.
- Trying to split parenting time as equally as possible. Contact and bonding time early in life is extremely important and can reduce the risk of separation anxiety.
- Rushing into overnight visits is not advisable because infants require routines to properly adjust to being outside of the womb. It often makes sense to have one parent handle bedtime until the child is old enough to adapt a little easier. The non-night-time parent should get time with the baby during the day.
- Doing your best to keep life consistent. This includes the general custody and/or visitation schedule to some areas of parenting.
- Adapting as the child grows. The infant will go from sleeping most of the time to being awake and alert for longer periods of time. This is followed by crawling, walking, running, talking, and more. It may sound cliché, but kids really do grow fast. The custody arrangement you have during the infant stages may not make as much sense when the child is a toddler.
- Keeping what’s best for the child at the center of your arrangement. Custody plans are no place to seek revenge or play games. You may not be friends with your ex, but you’ll both be the child’s parents for the rest of your lives.
Start a Child’s Life With a Strong Foundation
The best way to ensure that a child can grow up with stability, security, and confidence is if both parents work together to create a strong foundation. This may sound easy, but it is going to take
Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone, an Orange County child custody attorney is your lifeline, and having access to legal professionals who understands all of the ins and outs of divorce is essential. More importantly, they can help both parents keep their focus on doing what’s best for the child.
For a consultation to help you get started on the next chapter of your life the right way, contact our reliable legal team at the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin today!