Provisions for Basic Custody Agreements and Visitation Schedules
A custody agreement should include everything you need to ensure the rules for raising your child apart are clearly defined. Different states have different laws, so you should be aware of the specific legislation in your state to ensure you are not leaving anything out. The principles of a custody agreement remain constant in all of the states.
A basic custody agreement should contain:
- The kind of legal custody each parent will have and specific provisions delegating parental decision-making authority to either or both parents
- The kind of physical custody each parent will have and a basic visitation schedule that details the child’s living arrangements and how the child’s time will be divided between the parents
- A method for reviewing the plan in the future to ensure it is still relevant and meeting the child’s needs
- A method for modifying the plan should the child’s needs or circumstances change in the future
- A method for dispute resolution to help the parents reach an agreement should they need help finding solutions to any future conflict
- Any other provisions the parents feel are relevant and beneficial to the child
The “other provisions” you choose to include now may save you a lot of stress in the future. If you both establish the rules now, there will be little to argue about in the future.
Think about what issues you may be having now and try to predict future ones.
Do you send your child in nice clean clothes, only to have him returned in old stained up sweatpants? Does every toy your child takes disappear after she takes it to your ex’s house? If you are having problems with the child’s clothing and other possessions, you can include stipulations in the agreement that will act as a solution.
You may address the problems you are having with your child’s belongings in your custody agreement. You may stipulate that anything the child brings with him must be returned with the child or you may wish to include some other solution.
Do you envision your child returning from a visit with cropped blue hair? You can include provisions that state which parent will be responsible for making decisions about the child’s hair and other physical changes, such as piercings if you feel this may be a potential problem.
Did your ex buy your eight year old a cell phone when you feel she isn’t old enough to have one? Address it in your custody agreement. While you certainly cannot dictate what the other parent buys for your child, you certainly can request that these possessions are left at his or her house.
There is no limit to the amount of stipulations you may include in your custody agreement as long as you both agree to the rules. If there are issues that you do not agree on, you can ask the judge to make the decision (whether or not to include the provisions) for you.
You should always be prepared to provide the judge with a valid reason for your request. If you do not want your child around your ex’s new girlfriend simply because you don’t like her, your request will probably be denied. However, if the new girlfriend lost custody of her own children due to abuse and neglect, it is a reasonable request. (Be sure to bring proof of this to court!) You can even include a stipulation that protects you child from being exposed to anyone convicted of a violent crime or other potentially detrimental offenses.
Including your stipulations doesn’t have to be complex. You can create your basic custody agreement and just add them in at the end or include them as an attached page. You should never have to feel hesitant about adding in rules to protect your child and prevent current and future conflict.