One of the most challenging adjustments of the transition to shared custody involves giving up access to children at certain times. Especially when parents have differing standards for their children, the one with higher expectations or stricter rules will likely worry about what happens when they are not around.
It can be nerve-racking to leave children alone with a spouse who has a history of irresponsible behavior. Many parents may also worry about what kind of childcare decisions their co-parent might make. During the negotiation of a parenting plan, childcare rules can often become a sticking point in the negotiations between parents. How can concerned parents address the occasional need for child care outside of a set “daycare” kind of arrangement?
They can request the right of first refusal
Some parents will include special terms in their custody documents that require communication before the other parent leaves the child with a care provider. If the parent who currently has the children gets called into work, they should call the other parents to see if they are available under the right of first refusal rather than just dropping them off at a babysitter’s house.
They can restrict approved caregivers
For those concerned about who might provide care for the children, rules requiring a licensed facility or prohibiting specific childcare providers could be part of a parenting plan.
For example, if there have historically been incidents of inappropriate physical discipline when one parent’s family supervised the children, the other parent could request that the children not spend time under the direct supervision of those who have had a poor relationship with the children or a history engaging in inappropriate behavior.
Occasionally, the costs of child care will also complicate negotiations, as one parent may not feel like the costs estimated for child care are reasonable given their family circumstances. As important as negotiating the division of parenting time can be, it is also important to reflect on when parents cannot be present with the children during the early stages of planning a custody settlement.
Identifying potential sticking points during custody negotiations can make it easier for people to negotiate with their spouses and prepare viable strategies to use in family court if their situation becomes contentious. It can help to work with a legal professional to meet this goal efficiently and effectively.