Parenting Agreements and Custody Schedules: What to Know

Divorce happens, but it does not have to be a messy affair. Particularly when kids are involved, parents may strive to ensure the split stays as civil as possible. One way to accomplish this is to keep the custody part of the divorce straightforward and hassle-free. This is typically an easier feat for parents who are on amicable grounds but being able to work together well enough to hash out a parenting agreement and custody schedule can do wonders for everyone involved. In many cases, working together to craft parenting agreements and custody schedules can also mean less time will have to be spent in court. Let’s take a look at what a parenting agreement is, custody schedules, and when the court may get involved.

Parenting Agreements

Parenting agreements are often the result of the parents and their attorneys negotiating on every aspect of visitation and custody of their children. This process can either be done informally or via out-of-court processes, such as mediation. The parent’s final decisions regarding custody and visitation plans are often finalized in a written agreement, also known as a settlement agreement or custody agreement in certain states. A variety of topics and factors must be included and determined in the agreement, including the following:

  • What will physical custody of the child look like? Where will the child(ren) live?
  • Will there be a visitation schedule if one parent has a greater percentage of custody than the other?
  • Will one or both parents be involved in making major decisions about the child’s welfare and upbringing?
  • Where will the child spend holidays and vacations? Will these events rotate between both parents?
  • What will contact with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and family friends look like?
  • How will disputes over the agreement be handled, should they arise?

These are some of the more important issues that parenting agreements will address, but they are certainly not every issue. Every family is different and will have its own unique issues that will have to be addressed. That is the beauty of parenting agreements, though. They can be customized to suit the needs of each family.

Do Parenting Agreements Need Court Approval?

Parenting agreements, when completed, are usually submitted for final approval to a judge. Depending on the circumstances, an informal court hearing may be required. During the hearing, the judge might ask the parents a series of basic questions and will ask if both parties voluntarily signed the agreement. Once satisfied that the agreement was made fairly with the best interests of the children in mind, the parenting agreement will typically be approved and binding in the eyes of the court.

Factors to Consider When Making a Custody Schedule

As part of the parenting agreement, parents will have to set up some sort of custody schedule, especially if both parents wish to remain part of their child’s life. Like the parenting agreement, the custody schedule is customizable and will vary from family to family, depending on the needs and wishes of everyone involved. A few of the most important factors to consider when hashing out a custody schedule should include:

  • Work schedules. What do your work schedules look like, and when is each parent available to care for the child(ren)?
  • Age and needs of the child. Depending on the child’s age, personality, and needs, what type of schedule will work best for them to be able to flourish, learn, and grow? When working out a schedule, the needs and well being of the child often takes center stage.
  • Is the child involved in extracurriculars? What does their school schedule look like? These need to be taken into account when determining the custody schedule.
  • What holidays will the child spend with each parent?
  • Are the parent’s two homes close to each other? Will children have to attend daycare or need a babysitter?

While these certainly are not all of the issues a couple will have to consider when crafting a custody schedule, there is a good starting place. One of the most important things to remember is that whatever schedule you and your ex-spouse agree to should be realistic and fit into your regular daily life. Try to keep things as simple as possible and familiar for the child.

If you are unsure how to get started or need help drafting up a parenting agreement or custody schedule, consider contacting a family law attorney. Family law attorneys, like the ones at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have years of experience helping families just like yours navigate the divorce and child custody process. We know what works and what does not work.

Parenting agreements can save couples a great deal of time and money and can take a lot of stress out of what can be a messy, complicated process. We understand that many couples going through a divorce may have difficulty communicating with each other. That is where attorneys skilled in family law, come into play. The team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can sit down with both parties and help finalize a parenting agreement and custody schedule that works for your family. Call our office today at 704.370.2828, or contact us online, now offering three convenient office locations in Charlotte, Monroe and Mooresville.