Child Custody and Visitation Agreement
Most family courts will encourage co-parents to create their own child custody and visitation agreement before stepping into the courtroom. This allows co-parents to make agreements and compromises for themselves instead of having their judge or family law professionals create one for them. After they have submitted their child custody and visitation agreement to the court, the judge is able to make revisions based on what he/she feels is in the best interest of the child.
What needs to be included in a child custody and visitation agreement?
There are some basic things that need to be defined in your child custody and visitation agreement. These things will essentially define your day-to-day life until your child becomes a legal adult. This makes it extremely important that you sit down with your co-parent and seriously discuss these issues. If you are in a high conflict relationship with your co-parent consider hiring a mediator to help with these discussions. The following may be considered the most important aspects of your child custody and visitation agreement and must be clear and well defined.
The first thing that must be defined in the your child custody and visitation agreement is the type of custody that you and your co-parent will be enforcing. This includes both physical and legal custody. For more information on these types of child custody please visit the Child Custody Wiki page.
Weekend and weekday schedules are important details that must be clearly defined. Whether you have a simple visitation schedule or a very complicated one, it is important that you can clearly understand it because you will most likely be using it for a very long time.
Holiday schedules are important to define in your child custody and visitation agreement. Holidays are important for family. In this case it is a good idea to discuss with your co-parent and make a list of holidays ranked by how important you and your co-parent believe them to be.
Pick up and drop off terms are also important details to define. This seems to be more helpful if you are in a high conflict relationship with your co-parent. If you are, then picking up and dropping off at your home or your co-parent’s home is typically not a good idea.
Child support and split expenses depend on the other details of your child custody and visitation agreement. Depending on the type of custody or visitation schedule that you choose, child support amounts may vary.
Important things to remember for your child custody and visitation agreement
Each part of your child custody and visitation agreement must be very detailed while still being clear and understandable. The following are some examples of the additional details that must be included in your child custody and visitation agreement.
- Medical and dental care for your child (how will insurance be provided?).
- Decision-making regarding school and religion.
- How you and your co-parent will handle any conflicts that arise?
- Transportation agreements for your child.
- How you and your co-parent will participate in any extracurricular activities.
For some helpful resources to get you started on creating your own child custody and visitation agreement check out these Parenting Plan Worksheets for Co-Parents. The OurFamilyWizard website® has been helping co-parents to easily manage and enforce their agreements for years. For more information on how the OurFamilyWizard website® can help you with your child custody and visitation agreement please visit the Divorce Parenting page.
NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.
Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.