Child custody is often a divisive issue in a divorce. However, parents can work together to reach a child custody agreement that works for everyone. By reaching an agreement, parents spare their children the stress of a child custody fight and can also speed along their divorce action.
A custody agreement is called a “parenting plan,” and for help drafting yours, contact a Wilmington divorce attorney. Below, we will highlight some of the key sections that should be included in your agreement.
Creating a Parenting Time Schedule
This schedule identifies when the child will be with each parent. Often, this is the greatest issue in dispute. Parents can aim for 50/50 split, but that often is not realistic, especially when children are in school.
Let’s say you aim for a 70/30 split. This means one parent has the children for 70% of the year, and the other for 30% of the year. In this type of schedule, the parent getting 30% of the time might get a long stretch during the summer vacation and less time during the year.
Remember, a parenting time schedule must be realistic. If you are moving to Texas, then weekend visitation is not practical.
Divide Holidays, Vacations, and Birthdays
These are key days many people forget. Don’t assume your child will visit you on your birthday; include it in the parenting plan if
this is something you want.
Get Detailed on Exchanges
An exchange occurs when one parent hands off the children to the other. A common problem with many parenting plans is that they lack critical detail:
- What time will the hand-off occur?
- Where will the hand-off occur?
- Who will pay for gas to transport the children?
- How will parents communicate changes to the visitation schedule?
Identify How Parents Will Communicate?
So much happens every day involving children. The parent who does not have custody might feel out of the loop. In your plan, you should identify the following:
- What information each parent will share with the other. For example, sickness, hospital visits, injuries, etc.
- When and how parents will communicate about extracurricular activities
If you want to speak to your children every week, get detailed about when and how. For example, you will call your children on Sunday afternoon at 5:00 and the other parent will agree to make the child available. With so many children having cell phones, you might not think this is vital. It is. Get in writing when your child will be available to talk to you each week.
Dividing Decision-Making Authority
This is called legal custody. Issues involving medical care, education, or religious upbringing often require a parent’s permission. A couple should decide whether one parent has ultimate decision-making authority or whether they will share it mutually. If mutual, the parenting plan must identify how parents will resolve disputes.
Contact Us for Help
This article has only hit the highlights of what should be in your plan. There is much more information that should be included.
Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division
300 N. 3rd St. Suite 310
Wilmington, NC 28401