You and your spouse should try to decide the custody arrangements and visitation schedule without the help of the court. If you approach custody and visitation with the child(ren)'s best interest in mind, you should be able to arrive at a custody arrangement that is superior to that which the court would initiate.
If you cannot agree on arrangement, be prepared to let the court decide. When you are in a custody dispute and the court is forced to make the decision there are several principles they use for the basis of the decision. You should evaluate your position relative to these principles. You should also determine your strengths and weaknesses, and those of your spouse, as a custodial parent
Keep in mind that all situations are unique and often the court will make interpretations of all or some of the principles based on evidence and the burden of proof. The significant principles that the court may consider in a child custody dispute include:
- the child(ren)'s wishes
- current residence of the child(ren) and the overall effects of changing the residence
- relationship between the parents and the child(ren)
- care or concern delivered by each parent
- emotional and financial stability
- amount of time each parent can spend with the child(ren)
- how the parents treat each other
These principles provide an overview of things that will influence custody decisions. There are many more issues that are addressed in court that will aid in making a decision that is in the "best interest of the child(ren)."