When going through a divorce with children, there's a good chance you'll spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to protect your relationship with them in the future.
While you have one thing in mind regarding child custody and visitation, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may have a completely different idea. This can result in a standoff that calls for quite a bit of negotiation and compromise.
Your primary goal in mediation is to create a parenting agreement that puts your children in the best possible situation. It all starts with negotiating on a variety of details, including but not necessarily limited to:
- Which parent will have physical custody of the children
- A visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent
- If one or both parents will have legal custody of the children
- A schedule to determine where the children will spend holidays, vacations and other events throughout the year
Many people overlook the fact that the parenting agreement they create today may not work for them and their children in the future.
For example, if you have high school age children, their activities may begin to get in the way of the visitation schedule. You can include language in your parenting agreement on how to deal with any changes or disputes that arise in the future.
Court approval comes next
After you settle on the details of a parenting agreement, it's submitted to a family law judge for approval.
Depending on the details of the divorce, you may be required to partake in an informal court hearing to discuss the parenting agreement and to verify that both individuals understand their rights.
A violation is a big deal
You should never negotiate a parenting agreement with the idea that you can violate it in the future. Both parents are expected to follow the terms and conditions at all times.
If your ex-spouse continually violates the parenting agreement, you have the right to take legal action. For example, you may be able to successfully argue that the person's behavior should prohibit them from spending alone time with your children in the future.
You hope that creating a parenting agreement gives you and your ex-spouse a clear idea of how to parent your children after the divorce. However, if you run into trouble, don't wait to learn more about your legal rights.