Grand Rapids Family Attorney Negotiates Joint Parenting Agreements
Michigan encourages parents to work out their own child custody plan and present it to the court for approval. At the Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we find that these negotiated parenting agreements have a much greater chance of success than court decrees. When couples negotiate their own agreement, they have ownership over the plan and are more committed to following it than if they were coerced by a court order. Moreover, the very process of negotiating the parenting plan allows the soon-to-be ex-spouses to rebuild the level of trust necessary to co-parent in the future. While negotiated parenting agreements are not practical or possible for all couples, our firm is committed to principled negotiation that asserts your parental rights and works toward advancing the best interests of your children.
Getting to “yes” for your joint parenting plan
A joint parenting plan needs to be manageable for all the parties involved: the two parents and each of your children. You have to take into consideration your work commitments, your lifestyle, your children’s needs and your ex-spouse’s capacity to provide proper care. Our firm helps our clients take an objective inventory of their circumstances and set reasonable goals for negotiations. When traditional negotiations reach an impasse, we often recommend arbitration to overcome obstacles.
However, throughout the process, we stress to our clients that the court will assess their proposed parenting plan based on “the best interests of the child.” In deciding whether your plan meets that all-important criterion, the court weighs several factors:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and the continuation of the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed at or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be of relevance to a particular child custody dispute.
Resolving your child custody disputes outside of court helps ensure that both parents will abide by the terms, which saves time, expense and frustration in the future. Let our firm help you arrive at a comprehensive and fair settlement that satisfies the court and sets the tone for effective parenting in the future.
Contact our family law firm in Grand Rapids to establish your parenting plan
The Van Den Heuvel Law Office helps divorcing parents negotiate mutually agreeable joint parenting plans that meet court approval. Call us at 616-698-0000 or contact our Grand Rapids office online to schedule your initial consultation. We can also conduct your appointment via Skype.