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You’ve Received Custody of Your Child or Children. Now What?

For most, this may not come as a surprise, as child custody is often determined though a lengthy legal process. But there are times when custody can change quickly. Either way, when the decision happens, there will be some immediate concerns that you’ll need to address. Following is a list of some initial steps that you’ll want to take as you’re all adjusting to your new lifestyle together:

  1. Review the court papers. There will be things that you are responsible for handling, understanding and managing. If you have any questions, contact your lawyer immediately to clarify
  2. Schedule appropriate appointments. Chances are that the court will have suggested counseling for the child and perhaps yourself as well. Find these service providers and schedule appointments.
  3. Alert your workplace to your new family status. Most employers will allow you to take time to If not, it is still important for them to understand what you are managing at home.
  4. Find healthcare providers that you are comfortable with and are convenient for you. Ideally, healthcare providers will stay the same for the consistency of your child’s care, but if location presents a problem, it’s o.k. to make a change in your child’s primary care provider during this time
  5. If you live in a different town than your child’s parent, then make arrangements to enroll your child in school. Whenever possible, try to keep your child in the same school, but if this is not possible, make this transition quickly
  6. Make childcare arrangements if your child is not of school age or afterschool arrangements if your child is too young to stay alone. This time of year, it’s especially important to make summer plans. Summer days can be long and hot! If your child needs caregiving, make arrangements for your child’s time during the summer months. Daycare providers often offer summer programs that provide consistency in a child’s schedule.
  7. Carve out time to spend with your child. Hang out together, make dinner, and enjoy your new found relationship.

Transitioning from partial custody to full custody of a child can be a big leap. Consult your lawyer to discuss specific questions that you may have that are unique to your situation.