Whether you’re just starting divorce proceedings or have been separated from your former spouse for months, you will have to approach the subject of child custody and a visitation schedule somewhere down the road. How you approach these negotiations can mean the difference between creating an amicable parenting plan and a contentious legal battle before a judge.

If you’re like most parents, you want what’s best for your children, which is why you may be looking for ways to resolve your child custody situation in the least contentious manner possible. In order to do this, you must consider a number of things, such as:

Have you thought about your child’s best interests? Consider your child’s age, personality and other things that could be impacted by a custody arrangement. What works for you may not work for them and would not be considered in their best interests.

How will travel impact your child? If you live far away from your ex-spouse, take travel time into consideration. How will it affect your child? Will it create issues now and later on?

Does the custody arrangement offer stability? Children need a solid routine in their lives. Unfortunately, time-sharing plans can interfere with these routines. If your custody arrangement takes this into consideration, you may be able to avoid major interruptions to your child’s routine that could negatively impact them later in life.

Is your custody arrangement detailed enough? Custody arrangements that are detailed and easy-to-understand are easier to enforce. Details also make it easier to ensure reasonable expectations for everyone — including children — and avoid potential disputes.

Are you keeping yourself open to change? Unplanned events such as illness, travel delays and sudden deaths in the family can lead to situations in which one parent may miss scheduled time with their child. Remaining flexible and not allowing emotions to take over can help parents work through these hiccups, oftentimes leading to solutions like swapping days so that each parent is ensured that he/she has their parenting time with the child.

Are you keeping lines of communication open with your ex-spouse? Finding amicable resolutions to child custody issues is rarely possible if parents do not maintain open lines of communication. Talking through issues and negotiating trade-offs are an integral part of finding the balance for one’s children after divorce.