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Three important child custody questions

Child custody is, in many ways, the most important part of the divorce process. It's also something many people are dealing with for the first time in their lives. Therefore, it's important to do your research. Below are a few important questions to ask:

1. Can you and your spouse come up with a custody plan yourself?

You can, and couples will often do this when they're on relatively good terms. You still need to work with the court to get your plan approved and make sure it's legal, but you can figure out an arrangement without leaving it up to the judge.

2. What is meant by physical and legal custody?

These are the two main types of custody that will be awarded. Legal custody means that you get a say in making big decisions for your child -- like where he or she will go to school, get medical care or go to religious services. Physical custody means that you're the daily caregiver and the child lives with you.

3. If the judge awards custody, what does he or she consider?

There are many factors, but it all centers around what the judge feels is in the child's best interests. The person who is the primary caregiver may get preference. For older children who want to have a say in the decision, the judge may listen to the child's desires.

The most important thing you can do as a parent is to make sure you understand what rights you have when it comes to fighting for custody of your kids. While dividing assets is important, you may find that the outcome of the custody case means more to you than anything else once the divorce is finalized.

Source: FIndLaw, "More Child Custody and Visitation FAQs," accessed Dec. 16, 2016

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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