People do not get married with the intention of getting a divorce. On their wedding days, people envision themselves spending the rest of their lives with the person they form a union with at the altar.

Unfortunately, American divorce statistics indicate that 41-50% of first marriages, 60-67% of second marriages, and 73-74% of third marriages end in divorce. The incidence of divorce is only slightly lower for married couples who have children. Roughly 50% of American children will experience the divorce of their parents.

Ending a marriage is a stressful and emotional time. The divorce process can easily turn into a heated battle over property, assets, and custody of the children.

In general, people tend to allow their emotions to supersede logic in child custody cases. They fight over their children. They allow selfish reasons and desires to cloud their judgment and they lose focus of their children’s needs. They try to keep their children from spending fair amounts of time with the other parent out of spite, financial greed, or outright self-centeredness.

The best time to create a child custody schedule is while you are still happily married. You can approach your spouse and work on one together, “just in case”, or simply create one on your own and tuck it way somewhere. The difference between a custody schedule created by a happy couple and a divorcing couple can be astounding. The ability to do what is best for your children can be disabled when your judgment is clouded by hurt and bitter feelings.

Another thing couples can do is to create a custody plan before they even have children. That may sound ridiculous, but it is rather ingenious, when you think about it. After all, a prenuptial agreement is designed to protect finances, property, and assets in the event a marriage in terminated. Children are significantly more important than money. Creating a custodial agreement prior to having children or prior to needing such an agreement is an effective method of insuring the rights of your children (or future children) are protected.

Divorce rate statistics also indicate that 50-59% of first marriages succeed. The custody agreement you create now may never be needed. Much like disaster preparedness, it is far better to be ready for the worst case scenario and not need your provisions than it is to be caught unprepared.

If you are already involved in a custody proceeding, you will need to create a parenting time schedule for your child to submit to the court for approval. In order to create the best possible plan for your child, you should contemplate how you would have made the schedule in happier times. Set aside all animosity that you may feel toward the other parent. Focus on your child and keep in mind that your child deserves to have plenty of time with both of you. Children need both parents. Your child is depending on you to make a custody schedule that is reasonable and fair. Reflecting on better times may assist you in making the right decisions for your child.

Whether you create a child custody schedule before you have child, during your marriage, or at the onset of divorce, you should always consider the needs of your child above your own and create the plan accordingly.

Author's Bio: 

Christal Stephens is an advocate for children's custody rights. Christal has written extensively on the topics of parenting and child custody for She lives on a small farm in rural Utah with her husband and four children.