Every state requires parents to create some type of child custody agreement in conjunction with their divorce or legal separation agreement.
This agreement becomes the legal document which details how the children will be taken care when their parents are living separately.
Now, it's important for you to look up the exact requirements that your state has concerning the agreement because some states have specific rules about what must be included. Fortunately, the basic custody agreement is similar regardless of the state, so there are some general requirements that everyone should have in their agreement.
Most child custody agreements detail parental rights, legal and physical custody, the visitation schedule, and how other important issues concerning the children will be handled. Here are some of the fundamental factors to include in your custody agreement.
Custody provisions and stipulations provide extra rules and requirements that you and the other parent must follow. The best custody provisions are ones that focus on the best interests of your child or children. For example, many states require that parents include information about joint or sole custody in the provisions. This means that you must explain how you and the other parent will share and divide up the various parenting duties.
You can also add stipulations about how you will resolve disputes, how you will make future changes to the child custody agreement, the requirements for traveling with the children, how you will choose extra-curricular events for the child, etc. The provisions can be customized to the situation so they fit exactly what you want.
The bulk of the agreement is your child visitation schedule. This is also called a parenting time schedule because it shows the parenting time for each parent. To make a complete schedule, you and the father should make a basic schedule of custody and visitation which will repeat on a weekly or monthly basis. This is the normal routine that you follow regarding where the child spends time.
Along with this, you also need to develop a schedule for the various holidays and vacation times. This shows which parent the children will be with during the different holidays, and the specifics about how you and the father will share vacation-time with the children. Including all of these things will produce a schedule that shows where the children are at all times.
Every state has an exact calculation it uses to determine child support. You and the father must each fill out the proper papers so that the state can figure out who pays the support and the amount. These papers and the child support calculation are included in the child custody agreement.
Depending on your situation, you may want to include some extra reports or documents that pertain to the custody case. Many parents like to have a copy of the timeshare percentage calculation in the agreement. This is a document that shows the exact timeshare that the mother and father have with the children.
You can also include extra information about your child's special needs, education, medical information, etc. Any documents that are relevant to the agreement can be put in the agreement so you and the father can reference them.
To make sure that you and the father are abiding by the agreement, you should consider keeping track of actual visitation and writing a journal about what happens during visitation. There are many ways to do this, and you can choose a method that works best for you. You can jot down notes in a simple notebook, keep a calendar where you mark the times of visitation, store all the information on your computer, etc.
This is especially important if the other parent is frequently late for visitation or skips it altogether. You need to keep track of the extra time you have with the children so that you can go back to court and have the agreement altered to show what is really going on. Plus, if you keep good records, you will feel like you have greater control over the situation, and the peace of mind is a great benefit.
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