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Top reasons to avoid informal child custody arrangements

As time changes, your existing child custody order might become untenable. Or you may choose to forego a formal custody order altogether. Although in some instances those approaches can lead to a significant amount of conflict, in others the parents agree that change needs to occur. Sometimes, though, friction arises in discussing what that change should look like.

To save time and money, as well as to keep their matters private, a lot of these parents try to hash out an informal resolution amongst themselves. While that might seem like that’ll. help you develop a stronger co-parenting relationship, it can actually put your relationship with your child at risk.

There’s a lot that should go into a custody arrangement. If you’re unfamiliar with the law, it can be easy to overlook some of these key points, which can put you and your child at a disadvantage moving forward. To give you a clearer picture, let’s look at some of the main reasons why you should avoid negotiating a child custody arrangement on your own.

The dangers of negotiating a child custody agreement on your own

There are several ways that your custody agreement can go sideways when you try to handle it on your own. Here are just a few of the issues that you could see if you try to resolve your child custody issue informally:

  • Limited time with your child: Pursuant to state law, you’re entitled to a minimum amount of time with your child unless it’s restricted by the court. Don’t let the other parent convince you that you should have less time with your kids than you deserve. Instead, be prepared to hash out a formal custody arrangement that’s fair or be willing to take the matter to court.
  • Lack of decision-making power: A child custody arrangement isn’t just about where your child will live and what visitation with each parent will look like. It also involves determining who has the ability to make important decisions for your child, such as those pertaining to schooling and medical care. If you try to work out an informal custody agreement, then this legal aspect can be muddled, creating confusion and uncertainty about who will make those decisions when the need arises. This, in turn, can create conflict and potentially cut you off from playing the role that you should in those important determinations.
  • Restricted holiday time: The holidays are always difficult to sort out in a child custody agreement. If your child’s other parent dominates your informal discussions on this point, then you might cave in when you shouldn’t, resulting in less time spent with your child during the holidays. This can be a demoralizing result that robs you of powerful memories of celebratory time with your kid.
  • Lack of remedies: In an informal custody arrangement, you don’t have a legal avenue to enforce the agreement. Therefore, if your child’s other parent decides to keep your kid and restrict your access to them, there might be little you can do to force the other parent to adhere to the agreement that you negotiated. That’s why it’s best to get a formal court order accepting the agreement.

Don’t be afraid to formally address your child custody dispute

We understand the desire to avoid a formal child custody dispute. But the formalities of the process are what provide you and your child with the protection that you both need. By viewing the process that way, you can take comfort knowing that you can secure a custody order that’s fair, favorable, and enforceable. If you have questions about what it takes to achieve that outcome, then please be sure to discuss the matter with your attorney.