Experts agree that children grow up happier when their separated or divorced parents cooperate with each other about major concerns like custody and visitation rights. While it can be difficult for loving parents who are at odds to agree on important child-raising decisions, the best plan is to create an amicable custody agreement. There are ways to help make that happen.

Mediation is one tool that can help parents who cannot seem to come up with a mutual agreement on their own. A custody mediator might offer unbiased advice and lead sessions in a practical and productive manner. The idea is that parents and children are satisfied with the results. Another plus is that mediation is typically less costly than hiring an attorney to take child custody disputes all the way to a court hearing.

Child custody agreements also can be established between an estranged couple. If the parties involved want to proceed, they can have their agreements recorded with the family court system, but this is not mandatory. Normally there is no need to go before a judge once an agreement has been made.

When parents can’t come up with workable custody and visitation plans, one ex might hire their own attorney to help negotiate an agreement. Sometimes, these cases go to family court, where a judge decides custody issues based on the children’s best interests. This does not mean everyone will like the outcome.

It can be informative for a divorcing parent to talk with an attorney about the family laws of the state. Mediation is one service a law office might offer. A child custody modification is another topic that may be necessary to address as time goes forward and children get older.