What is a parenting agreement? In many child custody cases, the parents are able to come together before the case even needs to be heard in court. This scenario can occur for you as well if you and your child’s other parent are willing to negotiate.
This scenario can take place as a result of negotiations between you and your ex-spouse in a variety of ways. You can negotiate between yourselves with the help of your attorneys or through mediation about a parenting agreement.
Parenting Agreement: What is That?
If you and your child’s other parent are in a custody disagreement and are able to resolve all the issues that relate to visitation and child custody, you will then put your decisions down in writing.
This agreement between you and the child’s other parent is called a parenting agreement. In some states, it is referred to as a custody agreement or settlement agreement.
Court Approval and Parenting Agreements
Once you and your child’s other parent puts your agreement down in writing, this agreement is normally given to the judge for the court’s final approval. There may be an informal court hearing, where the judge may ask you some questions, including whether you and the child’s other parent understand the agreement and are signing voluntarily.
As long as the judge believes that you and your child’s other parent were fair in your negotiations (and crafted your agreement in the best interest of your child), they will almost always get court approval.
What if the Court Approved Parenting Agreement is Violated?
In many states, the parenting agreement becomes binding on both you and your child’s other parent once the court approves it. You and your child’s other parent must adhere to the parenting agreement.
If either you or your child’s other parent violates the agreement, you may end up in court to enforce it and resolve the issue.
What Do You Put into a Parenting Agreement?
Your parenting agreement should have all the information that you and your child’s other parent need to properly raise your child after you separate.
The general provisions in your parenting agreement should contain the following:
- A schedule that outlines parenting time for each of you.
- The ways you and your child’s other parent will make decisions for your child
- Financial and expense information
- Rules regarding how your child will be raised
- Any other information you and the other parent feel is important
You and your child’s other parent should personalize your parenting agreement, so that it fits the needs of your child, works for your family, and benefits no one but your child.
Parenting Time Schedules
Your schedule that outlines parenting time should include:
- A schedule that shows where your child will be living on weekdays and weekends
- A schedule for holidays
- School break and vacation schedule
- Special events that define times when the normal schedule may change
Below are different ways you and your child’s other parent can share and/or divide your decision-making responsibilities:
- One of you has the only authority to make decisions for your child.
- Both you and the child’s other parent can make big decisions individually.
- You and the child’s other parent make big decisions together.
- Each of you is responsible for certain types of decisions.
- When you or your child’s other parent is with the child, they make the decisions for the child.
Expenses and Finances
In many states, you will have to file any child support documents with your parenting agreement. You can come up with a plan for the way you and your child’s other parent will handle any additional expenses for your child, and you should put this information into your parenting agreement. This information should include any school activity expenses or other things child support may not cover.
Parenting Provisions and Rules
You and the child’s other parent may decide to put additional parenting provisions and rules into your parenting agreement, in order to make your individual custody arrangement work more efficiently. These provisions may include:
- Right of First Refusal, which gives you and your child’s other parent the right to have the child if the other parent needs childcare
- Information regarding transportation to and from child exchanges
- Each parent must provide the other parent with an itinerary if you travel with your child.
- Neither of you will talk negatively about the other parent in front of your child.
- How you and your child’s other parent will resolve any disputes
- How to make changes to the parenting agreement if necessary
How Does My Parenting Agreement Become Official?
If you’re wondering how to file your parenting agreement properly with the court, then consult a family law attorney in your state. Depending on where you live, certain documents may need to be filed or it might even be possible for you to simply submit an unwritten version of the plan that both parents have agreed upon.
By collaborating with your child’s other parent and coming to an agreement for the parenting plan, you can present it directly to the court in order for a judge to approve. However, if mutual cooperation isn’t possible or both parties cannot come together on a decision, most cases will end up going through trial proceedings.
Once the judge has approved of your parenting agreement, it will be legally binding and converted into a court order. This means you and your child’s other parent are obligated to abide by its terms. In case either party fails to honor the legal requirements, then both of you can face penalties imposed by the court for violating this official plan.
Remember, the court is unable to provide any assistance if your parenting agreement has not been officially accepted by them and one of you or the other parent breaches it.
What arrangement is typically agreed upon when it comes to custody of a child?
When circumstances are feasible, joint custody is generally preferred and the most common setup for parents to share in the caring of their children.
Do fathers have a right to equal custody rights?
Many parents choose 50/50 custody when they reach a consensus, while in other cases, it can be determined by the court if appropriate.
Can a mother have rights to deny a father access?
Fathers have a fundamental right to spend time with their children, just like mothers. Unless there are worries that further contact may harm the child’s welfare, fathers must not be blocked from seeing their kids.
How many times a week should a father see his children?
Every family has its own distinct dynamic, and the access for fathers will depend on the exact situation. Some fathers are able to see their children daily whereas others may only have contact once a month. Parents could share duties with alternating weekend visits or some dads might have regular visits each week; either way, every father deserves reasonable access to his kids.
Does a mother/father have a right to know who is around her/his child?
Every parent is entitled to be aware of the whereabouts of their children during visitation. They should also receive updates about who has been left in charge, whether it’s a babysitter or a family friend, when the other parent isn’t present.
The best thing you and your child’s other parent can do to protect yourselves and your child is to be as specific as possible when deciding on the terms of your parenting plan. If your parenting agreement or plan is not specific, it could open the door for a new child custody lawsuit.