The process of negotiating how to raise a child separately is one of the most difficult parts of divorce. Without a sturdy divorce strategy, divorcing parents may lose many of their parental privileges and priorities.

A court prefers to give parents the first opportunity to create a custody plan, but if they cannot come to an agreement that represents their child’s best interests, then the court will create a custody order and hand it down. If the conflict reaches this point, it is less likely that the parents will consider it a fair arrangement and abide by its terms.

If you are considering divorce or are already in the process, you must have a full understanding of your rights and the needs of your child to create a successful custody agreement. Courts are concerned with protecting the child’s best interests, rather than providing the parents with the outcome that is easiest or most satisfying.

Understanding your child’s best interests

Courts understand that each child has a different set of needs depending on their circumstances, temperament, age and many other factors. The first priority of the court when it comes to any child custody agreement is making sure that the needs of each child will be met by the custody arrangement.

If, for instance, your child has ongoing medical needs, it is unlikely that the court will approve a plan where you receive full custody of the child and then move to a remote location far from a medical care provider.

If the child has strong community ties to a particular area, a judge may consider this in their ruling, or may also consider the role that particular school plays in the child’s life.

Of course, if one parent has a home that can readily house the child and the other parent does not, this is likely to affect a court’s ruling. Each of the factors that affect your child must receive close attention while you build your custody plan, or you may have to go back to square one or accept a custody order that is not what you or your co-parent would want.

Protect yourself and your child with a strong strategy

Whether you hope to reach a fair arrangement with your child’s other parent or anticipate an ongoing conflict, a strong legal strategy is one of the best ways you can protect yourself and your child. Do not wait any longer to use the tools and guidance around you to keep your priorities secure and protect the best interests of the child that depends on you.