If you and your child’s other parent are separating, one of the biggest challenges you will face is determining child custody and visitation. Even if you are on good terms with your soon-to-be ex right now, you may find yourselves fighting over time with the kids and disagreeing on how they should be raised. A parenting agreement detailing child custody and visitation arrangements can make the separation process much easier on you and your child.
What should be included in your parenting agreement?
Your parenting agreement should address both parenting time and decision making relating to the child. As you and your ex draft your agreement, focus on the following issues.
Even if you agree to joint custody, it is unlikely that your child will be able to live with you 50% of the time and your ex the other 50 percent of the time. Therefore, you will have to come up with a schedule that allows the child to spend quality time with both parents without constantly having to travel back and forth between homes.
California parents who live in the same area may agree to a 3:4:4:3 schedule (three days at one parent’s house, then four days at the other parent’s house) or an alternating-weeks schedule. Long-distance parents may agree to allow the child to stay with one parent during the school year and the other parent during school breaks.
It can be difficult to decide where your child should go to school, what their religious upbringing should be, and what health care they should receive. Your parenting agreement should specify whether you, your ex, or both of you will make these decisions.
Once you and your ex come up with an agreement, you will present it to the judge for approval. Your attorney can make sure your agreement includes all of the necessary information before you go in front of a judge.