One of the most challenging parts of the legal proceedings associated with a divorce is the child custody agreement. Whenever possible, it's in the best interest of the divorcing parties to settle on their child custody agreement together before going into court. This ensures that you both get a settlement that is agreeable to you. Here's a look at some of the key considerations to cover when you draft your child custody agreement.
The most significant part of your child custody agreement is the section that defines the child custody plan that you have settled on together. This agreement needs to start by clearly defining who has legal custody of the child or children. Legal custody refers to the parent who is able to make legal and financial decisions for the children. Joint legal custody requires that you both agree on decisions, while one parent having sole legal custody allows that parent to make those decisions for the children freely.
Once you decide on the legal custody determination, you also need to detail the physical custody arrangement. Physical custody defines who the child will actually live with. Some parents settle on joint custody with a 50/50 split, which means that the children spend equal time at each parent's home.
Other parents settle on one parent having full physical custody, while the other parent has visitation. In cases where one parent is not fit for any reason, you may have a child custody lawyer determination where one parent has full physical custody and no visitation.
Include Visitation Schedules
If you are settling on a custody arrangement that includes one parent having visitation, you'll have to detail that visitation schedule as part of the custody order. Include information about which days the children will spend with that parent, including a holiday schedule. The more detail you can include, the easier it will be to get the court's approval and to move forward.
Incorporate Dispute Resolution
The final section of your child custody order should be a dispute resolution plan. This plan is designed to clearly illustrate what the options are for those situations where you and your former spouse cannot agree on a parenting decision or a visitation situation. This is the process that should be followed to reach a resolution in these cases.
The court will want to see that you and your former spouse can work together in the best interest of the children. This is the priority when it comes to child custody.
The best way to ensure that you craft a balanced and fair child custody agreement is to work with a child custody lawyer who can help you understand the law and ensure that your custody settlement is fair.