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Child Custody Orders: What Provisions to Include

A child custody order is your very important roadmap to successfully parenting after divorce.  Your order, whether issued via agreement or by the court, lays out both your legal and physical rights to your child.  This document should be as detailed and clear as possible so as to avoid any question while at the same time allowing you to live your lives.

Here are some important provisions you will want to talk to your lawyer about including:

1. Definitions

You may have the benefit of working with an attorney who can explain to you the difference between legal and physical custody or what relocation means.  But, that attorney is not going to necessarily be with you at all times later on down the road.  Having a clear order that spells out exactly what legal custody means, for example, can help both you and your child's other parent remain clear and help avoid confusion.  

2. Schedule

Previously, orders were vague and merely stated the type of physical custody each parent had.  Today, skilled family law attorneys and the court knows there is a benefit to clarity and a specific schedule.  A good custody order will tell parties when and on what days they have the right to custody with their children.  If there is any question, the order can be consulted.

3. Holidays

One of the realities of divorce is that now you will potentially need to split where your child spends his or her holidays.  Depending on your family's traditions, you can tailor your custody provisions to reflect how you celebrate your holidays in the context of your two separate households.  A clear schedule avoids any argument and can also be creative to allow both parents time on a big important holiday neither wants to miss.

4. Vacations

When you may have once traveled as a family, you will unlikely be going with your ex to the shore post-divorce.  Smart, experienced custody attorneys will make sure there is a provision in your custody order that addresses vacation time.  This can spell out how much time you take and what notice or information you must provide to the non-traveling parent.  

5. Specific exchange times

Just as you want to know what day you will have your child in your care, you also want to know for how long and beginning and ending at what time.  Make sure that there is a clear time of day listed to avoid confusion or loss of time with your child.  You may thing Friday night means 6pm but your child's other parent thinks it means 9pm.  Those three hours can obviously make a difference.  

When working on a custody order that works for you, it is important to address your goals with an experienced family law and custody attorney.  The lawyers at Schimmel Family Law can help you think of all necessary provisions, even ones you did not think about.  To schedule your initial consultation, click here!

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