Negotiating a child custody arrangement isn't an easy task for some parents. This is often the case when the divorce is contentious. Making it through this process is going to take effort on the part of both parents.
One of the most important things to remember is that you have to focus on what's best for the kids when you are trying to work out the parenting plan terms. When you find that the conversation is veering away from this, you can try to get things back on track by thinking about how each decision you make will impact the kids.
Put your feelings about your ex aside
No matter what's going on between you and your ex, you have to put your feelings about them aside. Right now, your entire focus is the kids. It might help you to remember how your ex treats the children. Even the worst spouse can still be a good parent.
Avoid making accusations against your ex
Unless your ex is abusing the children or has behaviors that would put the kids at risk, you don't need to bring up any accusations against your ex. It is highly unlikely that your spouse's affair is going to have an impact on the child custody case unless you can show that it would have a direct impact on your child's safety. For example, you would bring this up if the affair was with a registered sex offender.
Think carefully about the rules you ask for
Rules that are set in child custody orders apply to both parents. Make sure that you can live with any rules you ask for. You also have to think about how universal the rules are, especially if they are going to be overarching. One thing that you should consider carefully is any rule that would limit the amount of communication you have with the child's other parent. These can often lead to the child being able to manipulate their parents since they know the adults won't speak.
Set the terms for what the kids need now
Some parents think that the parenting plan that is set now will have to govern the children until they become adults. This isn't the case. As the child matures, it is possible to work out a modification of the order to meet the new needs of the child.
Try to remain calm as you negotiate with your ex. Pick and choose what decisions about the parenting plan are important to you and focus on those. Try not to worry about the less critical decisions that must be made.