Are Child Custody Agreements different from Parenting Plans?
Child custody agreements are important documents that all divorced and separated parents need to create to ensure the best possible arrangement for their child. A custody agreement outlines how custody is divided between parents.
There are two types of custody you need to know about before creating your custody agreement. Legal custody is defined as the decision-making responsibility the parents have in regard to the child. Physical custody is defined as the actual physical time the parents have with the child. These two types of custody can be divided either solely or jointly. Your custody agreement may be either a sole or joint custody agreement. Let’s take a look at what goes into a custody agreement.
The essential elements of child custody agreements are:
- Visitation and custody schedule – This is the regular, everyday schedule the child lives by. It defines the custody arrangement the parents have and shows where the child lives each day.
- Holiday and vacation schedules – This is a schedule that outlines holidays, vacations, school breaks and other special events. This schedule takes precedence over the regular schedule. It should include a list of all holidays celebrated by the family, school breaks the child has, vacation times and other special occasions the child may attend or have.
- Child support information – Information about child support should be included in your custody agreement. This information should detail which parent pays child support, how much is paid and the frequency of payments. Information about expenses outside of child support should also be detailed so there are no questions as to which parent is responsible for which expenses.
- Provisions – Any provisions that will help your custody agreement work more effectively should be included. Provisions are rules or guidelines that help make the agreement work better. You may include provisions such as right of first refusal, how contact is made between parents and with the child, how transportation and exchanges are arranged and how parental disagreements are resolved.
- Any additional information – You should include any additional information that will make your child-rearing and shared parenting situation much more effective.
By following the guidelines above, you can make effective custody agreements that benefit both parents and most importantly, benefits your child.
If you are willing to work with the other parent and do what is best for your child, you will be able to create the best agreement.