If you decide to divorce and have at least one child with your spouse, you can rest assured that you’ll need to work through a variety of things regarding child custody.
While most child custody cases reach a resolution before litigation, there is no guarantee this will happen. Fortunately, when you understand the power of negotiation, whether done by the lawyers for the spouses or through formal mediation,it may be possible to work things out without the intervention of the court.
Your goal is simple: to create a parenting agreement that outlines the roles and responsibilities of both parties.
There is a lot that goes into this, so don’t be surprised if it takes several sessions in order to make progress.
What does a parenting agreement include?
A parenting agreement can cover these and other matters:
- The parent who will have physical custody
- A visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent
- The parent who will have legal custody (it’s also possible for both parents to share legal custody)
- Information on how to approach contact with extended family members
- An outline of where the child will spend vacations, holidays and other important life events
- An outline for handling changes to the parenting agreement and future disputes
Again, it’s important to remember that no two parenting agreements are the same, so make sure you focus on the details that are most important to you and your child.
Once you work through all the specifics with the other parent, the agreement is then sent off for final court approval.
While not always the case, there is a chance that a brief court hearing may be necessary. At that time, the judge will ask basic questions, such as if both parents understand the finer details of the parenting agreement.
When everything is said and done, the only thing you have to worry about is adhering to your responsibilities as outlined in the parenting agreement. It may take some getting used to, but over time you’ll realize that it’s for the best — both for you and your children.
In the event that the other parent isn’t following the agreement, you may need to consider taking legal action in order to protect your rights. And over time, the changing needs of the children and parents may necessitate a change in the terms of the parenting plan. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you develop the right parenting plan based on your situation, and assist in subsequent matters.