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Parenting agreements

This blog often discusses what happens when parents cannot work through child-custody issues on their own. And with good reason. But the reality is that many parents never get to that stage. These parents find a way to hammer out an agreement with the other parent on how to handle child custody. This agreement is known as a parenting agreement.

A parenting agreement usually starts with dialogue between the parents. Sometimes that discussion is done informally between the parents on their own. Other times the parents have counsel at their side. If that process does not work, the parties can use out-of-court processes, notably meditation or collaborative law. Once an agreement has been reached orally, the agreement is then reduced to writing. This writing becomes the parenting agreement (also known as the settlement agreement or custody agreement).

Does the agreement need approval from a court? Generally, yes. A court may hold an informal hearing to permit the judge to ask questions to ascertain whether the deal was fairly negotiated with the child's best interests in mind.

What areas should the parenting agreement cover? That will depend on the situation. But some key ones are where the child will live, when can the other parent visit, who gets to make the big life decisions and who has the children for holiday, vacation and the like. Other questions that are often good to answer in advance include how disputes and changes will be handled and what role, if any, relatives, family friends and others will play in the child's life.

Floridians interested in learning more may benefit from speaking with an experienced child-custody attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "The Parenting Agreement," Accessed March 22, 2016

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