I don’t want judges and lawyers deciding how to raise my children. Is there another way to work out our custody agreement that will respect my values and choices?

There are several ways.  You are wise not to trust judges to parent your children.  It is not what they are trained for, and they are unlikely to do a good job.  One solution is to locate a therapist or counselor who specializes in helping parents work out a parenting plan by working together.  A mental health professional can help you both better understand your children’s needs, and each other’s point of view.  If you choose this option, it is best if you also consult with an attorney who can review your options with you, and who will review the agreement when it is worked out to make sure it will work.  You could also choose collaborative divorce, which is explained elsewhere on this website.  You can hire a private mediator to mediate your agreement, but you should be sure that the mediator understands all the practical issues in custody cases.  Again, you should also consult with your own lawyer before and after mediation.  A mediator cannot give legal advice to either side, so it is important to have someone tell you what your rights and legal options are.  Finally, you can use your lawyer to try to work out an agreement with the other party and his or her lawyer.  This may not be the best option, but it is certainly better than going to court.  Colbert Family Law, LLC can help you navigate any of these options.  We are committed to empowering parents to make custody agreements that reflect their values and needs.