As you move toward the divorce process, concerns regarding co-parenting flood your mind.
Will I get to spend enough time with my children? How will I get along with my ex? What happens if we get into one argument after the next?
While these concerns are valid, there are steps you can take to clear your mind and ensure a better future for you and your children. Most importantly, you should work with your soon-to-be ex-spouse to create a comprehensive parenting agreement.
A parenting agreement, also known as a settlement agreement or parenting plan, should include the following:
- Which parent has physical custody
- Which parent has legal custody (it can be both)
- A visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent
- A schedule for the holidays, vacations, birthdays and other important events
- How contact with extended family will work
- How to handle future changes and disputes
These are the basics of any good parenting agreement, but you’re able to include other details that relate to your specific situation.
Will the court approve the parenting agreement?
After you work out the details of your parenting agreement in mediation, it’s sent to a family law judge for final approval.
You may have to attend an informal court hearing to answer basic questions about the agreement, as it shows the judge that both individuals are aware of what they’re signing and what they’re responsible for in the future.
What about a parenting agreement violation?
Just because you create a parenting agreement doesn’t mean that your ex-spouse will follow the terms and conditions at all times. For example, if your ex has visitation rights, they could violate the agreement by keeping your children longer than scheduled.
If your ex doesn’t abide by the parenting agreement, you have the legal right to take action. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to request a modification from the court that approved the agreement.
A parenting agreement can help save you from arguments with your ex while co-parenting, thus reducing stress. However, you shouldn’t assume that the plan will prevent all disagreements. There may come a point when you need to discuss your agreement with your ex, and possibly even get the legal system involved.