Mediating Child Custody & Support Issues is the only way to approach sensitive children negotiations without threats or financial drain. Child custody litigation is extremely costly - both financially and emotionally. Legal fee retainers for such matters are among the highest in family law typically starting at $5,000 to $10,000 per parent. That is a minimum of $10,000 to $20,000 just to walk in the door and get the matter started. Remember, a "retainer" is just another word for downpayment and typically is not your total cost.
Parties negotiate these matters to arrive at a Parenting Agreement or as part of their Marital Settlement Agreements:
Legal Custody: Who will make major decisions, relating to health, education, and the religious upbringing of the Children? Who will decide where the children will live? This is not always "sole" or "joint". The parties can make hybrid agreements, for example, giving one party "tie-breaking" authority for educational decisions, etc. There are many options we can discuss. Sometimes the parties agree that one party has sole legal custody, except for relocation of the Child or Children.
Physical Custody: Where will the Children sleep each night? What will be the Regular Schedule of the Children during the school year? The summer schedule? How will holidays be scheduled? Birthdays? What about vacations? Traveling with the Children? Some parties prefer great precision and detail. Some parties, especially parents of older teenaged children, have a more flexible, less defined schedule.
Child Support: What is the income of each party? How are the Maryland Child Support Guidelines calculated? Who pays for clothing, medical care, extracurricular activities? Will there be an agreement relating to college expenses? What about the special needs of some Children like tutoring, cars, cell phones? What about transportation costs where the parents live far apart?
Health Insurance: How will we all keep our health insurance? How will the premium be paid? What about health costs not covered by insurance? Will the parties ask each other to commit to health care expenses of college age children?
The Family Home/Paying the Bills: Where the parties and the Children live? Will one spouse stay in the Family Home? If so, for how long? How will the mortgage or rent be paid? What about the other bills of the Family Home? Are we going to sell the Family Home? Will one spouse keep the Family Home and refinance to remove the other from mortgage obligations?