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Things to understand about a parenting agreement

When moving through the divorce process, you may find yourself negotiating the terms and conditions of a parenting agreement. As difficult as it sounds, if you keep an open mind, you should be able to settle on something that works well for you, the other parent and your children.

A parenting agreement is designed to provide structure in the future. With this court-approved document in place, both parents have a clear idea of their legal rights and what's expected of them as a parent. This is much better than hoping for the best.

A parenting agreement can include many things, and it's up to you and the other parent to decide what's most important. Some of the things you absolutely want to include are as follows:

  • Where the children will live
  • Which parent has legal custody of the child (or if it's the both of you)
  • A structured visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent
  • An outline for contact with extended family members
  • Information on where children will spend life events, such as holidays and vacations

You can also include language about future alterations to the parenting agreement. Since these are likely to be necessary, it's nice to have a system in place for making the mutually beneficial changes.

The court must approve

Once you settle on the details of the parenting agreement, typically in mediation, it's sent to a family law judge for review and final approval.

There's a chance you may have to attend an informal court hearing, as this gives the judge the opportunity to ensure that you and the other person understand exactly what the parenting agreement says.

Could a violation occur?

Even though a parenting agreement is filed with the court, it doesn't necessarily mean that both individuals will always follow through with what they agree upon.

If you're doing your part but the other parent continually violates the agreement, there are a few things you can do.

First off, try to discuss what's happening in an attempt to get everything back on track. If this works, you've avoided the time and money associated with taking the person to court.

If it doesn't, you'll want to learn more about your legal rights. You shouldn't let the other parent continually violate the agreement, as doing so is harming you and your children.

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