Most people don't want to have to go through a lengthy, and costly, child custody battle in court. For this reason, many ex-couples are coming up with their own child custody agreements without getting a judge involved. However, there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration when it comes to reaching an agreement for child custody. Here are three things to keep in mind when you are working out a child custody agreement.
1. Physical custody versus legal custody
An important distinction that needs to be made in the child custody agreement is who has physical custody and who has legal custody. Physical custody is who the child will live with, whereas legal custody covers who will be the one to make important decisions for the child (i.e. schooling, religion, medical matters, etc.). It is vital that the child custody agreement covers both physical and legal custody of the child.
Most parents will share joint physical and legal custody. If that is the case for you and your ex, you need to be sure to have it written out how you will meet to make important decisions regarding the child.
2. Child support
If you and your ex have put aside your differences enough to sit down and come up with your own custody agreement, you both need to consider the issue of child support. For parents who are sharing legal and physical custody of the child, it is usually best for neither parent to seek child support. Instead, each parent will take care of living expenses relating to the child while they are living with them.
However, in some cases, the court may find it best to award one parent child support - even if they do share custody equally with the other parent and have agreed that neither want child support from each other.
3. Vacation time
How vacations with each parent will be handled is another important issue to keep in mind when you are working out a child custody agreement. Some people require the other parent to submit a vacation plan to them, in writing, for their approval. This plan will detail where the vacation is taking place, for how long, and any planned activities there may be.
While this can seem a bit extreme for most vacations, it is a good idea to require a submitted vacation plan if it will be out of the country. That way the other parent knows exactly where their child will be and won't be surprised if they can't reach you on your cell phone.
Not only should you specify guidelines for each of you taking your child on vacation, but you should also specify how their school vacations will be handled. For instance, one of you can get them during their spring break, while the other gets the bulk of their winter break. Putting these important details in your custody agreement can save a lot of headaches and frustration in the future.
This information can help you as you make child custody agreements, but the best results will come from working with an experienced lawyer from a firm like Madison Law Firm PLLC.