Divorce is tough for any number of reasons, but perhaps the most heartbreaking part of it is the child custody battle. To be clear, there isn’t always a battle. Sometimes, parents reach an agreement that both think is fair. Even then, though, if there’s going to be custody of some sort for both parents, everyone loses some time with their kids, and if only one parent has custody, then the kids lose a lot of time with that other parent. It’s a no-win situation.

Added to this is the fact that custody isn’t really as simple as it’s made out to be. There are, in fact, two kinds of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody is about where the kids live and spend their time, while legal custody is about who gets to make the major life decisions for the kids, like what schools they go to and what medical treatments they need.

Custody can be sole (just one parent) or joint (shared by both parents), with one parent having “primary” custody. So, even if it seems like an agreement can be reached between both parents, there’s still plenty of room for dispute.

This is why, even in friendly divorces, it is important to fight for as much custody as possible of children. This can seem like a bad idea in the moment. After all, the divorce is already painful, why make it acrimonious by trying to demand more than just every other weekend for your custody? Or, why demand you’re the primary custodian who gets the final say on any decisions? It’s easy to assume not rocking the boat (when so much is already rocking and crashing around you) is the best course.

But you may regret it, and changing that custody decision may be harder than you think down the road. If you don’t fight to have the kids every weekend now, you may find, a year or two from now, you wish you had been more obstinate at the time.

So, fight now to avoid future regrets. Get the best child custody lawyer you can so you can get the best child custody arrangement possible. While you by no means want to tear apart the relative peace you have with your former partner (if indeed there’s peace to be had), showing how important your kids are to you in this moment can be important for all parties. It reaffirms your commitment to your former partner and to your kids in a moment when they may feel some doubts, and it demonstrates to the judge how seriously you take your role as a parent. It also, once again, removes the need for regret later.

The truth is, child custody is complicated. It’s messy, and even if everyone seems happy in the moment, it’s likely no one will really be happy about the situation long term. It’s something a family has to grow around, but just make sure you’ve given yourself the room to grow with your kids with the best custody deal to keep you central to their lives.

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