Child Custody Agreement

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Key Agreement for Your Child Protection!

Divorce is a difficult decision for any family.  Its hard for the parents, but even harder for your child.

After your separation or divorce, you and your ex need a custody agreement on many things, such as which parent the kid is going to live with, how often and how long the non-custodial parent can visit the child, how to take care of the childs daily activities in and after the school to ensure that he or she enjoys a healthy life style. A Child Custody Agreement (also referred in the court as a Parenting Plan) addresses all these concerns.  It is usually resolved voluntarily and informally in between you and your ex.

The agreement is required by the district court along with your divorce paper when you divorce or separate.  It is critical for you to set up guidelines regarding your responsibilities for your kid to avoid future conflicts.

When parents do not comply with the agreement, the court is then forced to make decisions for the best interest of your child and come up with their own agreement for you.  You may consider binding arbitration where an arbitrator will make the same decisions that a judge would so that you can avoid the court.

Your custody agreement should address the following concerns:

  • Parenting time (physical custody)
  • Decision making (legal custody)
  • Visitation (rights and schedule, overnights)
  • Transportation and exchange
  • Contact information, relocation and foreign travel
  • Contact with relatives and significant others
  • Communication and mutual decision-making
  • Child support
  • Child education, including:
    – school to attend
    – school functions
    – social activities
    – vacations and school breaks
    – access to records
  • Physical and mental health care
  • Dispute resolve process
  • Mediation and arbitration
  • Medical insurance and related expenses
  • Taxes and wills

A Stipulated Child Custody Agreement

If you and your ex can both agree on an arrangement for both custody and visitation before the court hearing, its called stipulated.  A judge can approve a stipulated agreement without court hearing.  Judges usually encourage you to reach the agreement, rather than go to hearing.

Your lawyer will file your private custody agreement as a stipulation, which serves as an official record for your custody and visitation.  A judge will then sign the order, rendering it enforceable, meaning legally binding.

The Minimum Parenting Time

In most of the states, the court-ordered custody agreement sets the minimum amount of parenting time and access the non-custodial parent is entitled to have.

The standard, short-distance visitation plan by the family court in most states consists of alternating weekends and some holidays, there are also medium and long-distance parental plans that allow you to combine these visits into a longer time to reduce your travel time.

The Need to Change Your Child Custody Agreement

There are many reasons when you need to change your existing agreement, such as:

  • A parent may remarry and have additional children, which may affect where your child would want to live
  • You or your exs income may increase overtime and allow your child to live a better lifestyle
  • You or your ex may move and your child may want to visit more or less
  • As your child grow, he or she may need to go to a different school or may have different ideas on where to live

The concept of changing the custody and visitation arrangement overtime could be a wise choice for the best interest of your child for both the physical and psychological development.

What If Your Ex Does Not Stick to The Custody and Visitation Agreement?

If that happens, you will then need to refile your case, which includes obtaining new counsel and paying new court fee.  So its to your best interest, also to your kids, to ensure that you have a good agreement in the first place and then both parties stick to it.

Your Agreement Is for the Best Interest of Your Child

Usually its difficult for both parents to agree on all the custody and visitation terms and come up with an arrangement that they both are happy with.  However, for the best interest of your child you still need to try everything you can to avoid custody battle and work out terms in a written agreement that provide supports and protections for your child.

Reaching a good child custody agreement is never easy.  You need to ensure that you do everything right to fully protect your custody and visitation rights and give your child the best living and development environment

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