If you are in the middle of a custody suit, you will be asked to create a parenting plan or custody agreement for your child. You will be legally obligated to abide by the rules set forth in your custody agreement once it is approved by the judge. The only way to legally change the terms of your custody agreement will be to return to court and argue your case before a judge.
Returning to court can be expensive and time consuming. If you want to avoid this inconvenience you should do everything you can to create an effective custody agreement the first time around.
Your custody agreement should address the legal custody of your child. Who will ultimately be responsible for making major decisions for your child? You can assign decision making authority to each, either, or both parents. These decisions include your child’s education and medical care. Basic decisions such as what your child will eat for breakfast are generally determined by the parent who is physically caring for the child at the time.
Your custody agreement should address the physical custody of your child. Where will your child live? You will need to create an effective visitation schedule that gives your child the proper amount of time with each parent.
Your visitation schedule will need to address the holidays and vacation time in addition to a general parenting time schedule. Holidays take precedence over the regular visitation schedule. Children should be given a more equitable amount of time with each parent for holidays and special occasions. Some parents opt to take turns having the child every other year on the various holidays but you may create the holiday schedule as you see fit.
Your custody agreement should contain provisions to help you resolve problems and make modifications to the plan without returning to court. You should include methods for periodically reviewing the plan, making changes to the plan, and dispute resolution.
Your custody agreement should contain additional provisions that address potential sources of conflict and resolve them. Transportation, communication, optional expenses, the child’s belongings, and how medical bills will be paid are just some of the topics you may want to consider including in your plan.
Once you have created a proposed parenting plan, you will need to work with the other parent to reach an agreement. This will require patience and compromise. If you want your custody agreement to be effective, both of you are going to have to agree to the terms of the agreement. Reaching an agreement is in your best interest and is in the best interest of your child.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent, your custody arrangements will be created for you by the judge or another officer of the court. Allowing the court to decide your child’s fate creates conflict. Neither one of you may be happy with the terms of the assigned agreement. This could lead to arguing with each other for years to come. You really need to set your feelings aside for the sake of your child in order to make an effective visitation schedule and the best possible custody arrangements for him or her.