What Should My Ex and I Include in Our Parenting Agreement?

 Posted on November 06, 2020 in Child Custody and Visitation

dads divorce law parenting agreementEven though divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, parents will usually want to do everything they can to protect their children and make sure their needs will be met both during the divorce process and in the years to come. If you and your ex can agree to work together as co-parents to do what is best for your children, this can help you avoid a great deal of stress and conflict. A well-crafted parenting agreement is key to successful co-parenting, and you will want to make sure your agreement addresses your family’s needs and protects your rights as a father.

Elements of a Good Parenting Agreement

Your parenting agreement, which may also be referred to as a parenting plan, should clearly describe how you and your ex will handle matters related to your children going forward. It should include terms addressing:

  • Legal custody - Your agreement should fully detail how you and your ex will share in making decisions about how your children will be raised. Some states refer to legal custody as the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” and different areas of responsibility may be addressed, such as education, healthcare, and religion. You should be sure your parenting plan specifies each parent’s rights and responsibilities in making these decisions for your children.

  • Physical custody - Your parenting plan should include schedules for parenting time or visitation, detailing when your children will stay at each parent’s home on a regular basis and on special days such as holidays or vacations from school. You should also make sure your agreement details transportation arrangements to avoid confusion about when and how children will be picked up or dropped off at the beginning and ending of each parent’s parenting time.

  • Right of first refusal - You and your ex may agree that if either of you will be unable to care for your children during your scheduled parenting time, you will offer the other parent the opportunity to take the children before making arrangements with a babysitter or family member. While these terms are not usually required, they can provide you with the assurance that your children will be with a parent whenever possible.

  • Rules parents must follow - You may want to create rules meant to protect your children’s health and safety and ensure that they can maintain a good relationship with both parents. You may agree on what types of discipline are or are not appropriate, when children can communicate with one parent while at the other parent’s home, or whether you and your ex will avoid certain activities, such as alcohol or drug use, during your parenting time.

  • Dispute resolution - Your parenting plan may describe the procedures you and your ex will follow if disputes arise or if one of you wishes to make modifications to the agreement. For example, you may state that you will use mediation to attempt to reach an agreement before taking legal action in court.

Ideally, your parenting agreement will make sure you and your ex can work together to help your children grow and develop, and it can give you reassurance that your rights will be protected if your ex is not meeting legal obligations. An experienced divorce attorney can help you create a parenting plan that will meet your family’s needs, protect your parental rights, and provide for your children’s best interests.



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