It is never easy for parents to negotiate dividing up time with their child, even when everyone involved wants a civil, respectful divorce or separation. The time we get to spend with our children is one of the most precious things we have, and many parents feel pulled to seek as much custody time with their child as they can obtain, whether it is best for the child or not.
As you and your child's other parent navigate these difficult areas, it is important to keep the best interests of your child in mind. Not only does a child-centered parenting agreement ensure that the child's best interests remain protected, it also demonstrates to family courts that both parents have their priorities in line. At the same time, it is important to understand your own needs and limitations, to help keep your parental rights secure as your child grows into an adult.
Elements of a strong parenting agreement
Each family faces different struggles and advantages, and no two parenting agreements may be exactly alike. However, a strong parenting agreement typically addresses several key areas, such as
- Primary custody duties and privileges
- Visitation and child transfer schedules
- Holiday and vacation schedules
- Guidelines for resolving disputes surrounding raising the child
- Guidelines for modifying the agreement, if necessary
- Guidelines for parental behavior involving the child or child custody issues
- Contact information for key family members
A strong parenting agreement lays a foundation that allows both parties to protect themselves from unfair treatment by the other while ensuring that the child they both love has the tools and support they need to mature healthfully.
Modifying a parenting agreement
As your child grows, your life circumstances or those of your child's other parent may change significantly, or the child's own needs may shift. In many instances, this indicates that the parenting agreement requires an update. Modifying a parenting agreement is not an easy task, so it is wise to include provisions for modification in the agreement itself. In this way, both parents have a clear, mutually approved process for modifying the agreement if and when they believe it is necessary.
Co-parenting can be a positive experience for a family, if they are willing to make sacrifices and keep the needs of the children at the heart of the process. As you build your plan, use high-quality legal resources and guidance to keep your rights secure and give you the tools you need to protect the ones you love and give them the best life you can.