Parental Custody Agreements Help Everyone Transition Through Divorce
As part of your divorce proceedings, you and the other parent must work out a parental custody agreement that creates a stable, loving environment for your children. These agreements are also called parenting plans or co-parenting agreements. Because you and the other parent are not together anymore, it is vital to come together on decisions covering a variety of child rearing issues.
About Custody Agreements
Both of you should create a parental custody agreement that meets your children’s physical and developmental needs. The family court prefers that parents work things out between them, because they have the greatest insight into what will be best for their children.
There is no single parental custody agreement that fits every family, so you’ll need to create a customized plan that is tailored to your family’s schedule and your children’s developmental needs.
While there is no limit to the topics your parental custody agreement can cover, there are certain foundational issues that must be decided first. Here are some of the basics that you and the other parent need to address first:
- Custody provisions
- Information about child support
- Visitation and custody schedule
- Parenting time guidelines that regulate visitations
- Division of child-related costs
- Communication obligations and requirements
- Sharing information about the children
- Methods of resolving future conflicts
Once you can resolve these incredibly important foundational custody issues, then you can move on to the smaller details that will make your children’s transition to post-divorce life easier.
Working Out Parenting Time
One of the most emotional aspects of creating a parental custody agreement is working out parenting time. Parents who are used to having their children in their lives full time find the idea of splitting that time up to be sad and frightening. Parenting time is a more modern label for “child custody” or “visitation time.”
Creating a parenting time calendar is always more difficult when two different households are involved. An agreement helps you and the other parent keep up the effort and communication necessary to promote the best interest of your children.
When you create a parenting time calendar, take into account what age-appropriate needs your children have. A parenting time calendar should cover:
- Pick-up and drop-off times
- Details on transportation
- What needs to happen to get children ready for transfers
- Parenting time with a third party, such as grandparents
- Outline what reasonable notice is needed to change the schedule
Unless there are circumstances that prevent it, your children need an ongoing relationship with both parents after your divorce. It is extremely important for them to engage in positive interaction in order to develop emotionally and socially.
Divorce automatically causes stress, sadness, anger and guilt in children. However, a detailed parental custody agreement used as a tool in cooperative parenting can reduce the effects on your children.