It’s important that parents put in necessary custody stipulations in their child custody agreement or parenting plan. Custody stipulations, also called custody provisions, provide rules and principles for the parents to follow as they raise their children. Parents can put stipulations into the agreement or parenting plan to ensure that both parents adhere to certain standards and conditions whenever the child is in that parent’s care.
Parents should put a stipulation in the parenting plan for anything they want the other parent to be required to follow. The information in the custody agreement and parenting plan become the custody order, and this is a legal document. Both parents are legally obligated to follow the custody order, and if they don’t they can be held in contempt of court. Thus, having something in the custody order is the only way to guarantee the parent will do it–and the only way to have a punishment if the parent doesn’t do it. So, parents should consider what rules and standards they want as part of the law. Here are some sample custody stipulations that parents commonly put in their custody agreements.
1. Information about joint custody and decision making. Parents need to have information about how they will share decision making responsibility for the child. Stipulations are a good place to provide further information about how the parents will make decisions and share that obligation. A specific stipulation could spell out that each parent must give input when deciding on the child’s schooling, medical care, religious upbringing, etc. There could also be a stipulation that spells out the punishment if a parent makes a decision without consulting the other parent.
2. School and extra-curricular events. It is usually wise for parents to include some stipulations for how they will handle school and extra-curricular events. The mother and father can put in a provision that states that both parents must discuss and agree before enrolling the child in a particular extra-curricular event. Or that a parent must inform the other parent if a school event falls on the time the child is with the other parent. There can even be stipulations that spell out when it is acceptable for each parent to attend the school and extra-curricular events.
3. Transportation for exchanges. Along with figuring out the custody schedule, parents need to decide how they will get their children from one home to the other. This can be done through stipulations that include information about if the parents will meet at a neutral location for exchanges, if one of the parents will drive the children to the other house, the requirement of the child to wear a seat belt during the transporting, consequences if a parent is late, etc. This can make the exchanges go more smoothly and can eliminate future disputes.
These are just a few of the custody stipulations that can be added to a parenting plan. We’ll look at some more in the next post as well.
We’ve released a new version of Custody X Change. This version is noteworthy for the following new features:
- Updated for Windows 7 compatability (should work in all cases now). Let me know if you run into any problems with this latest version and either Vista or Windows 7.
- The holiday tab is significantly less cluttered: unapplied holidays don’t show any information.
- The Spring & Winter breaks now can be user-defined for each year. Many schools have their breaks at odd times, and now you can set the dates with a custom break editor.
- An option for unchecked 3-day weekends is now included in every version.
Here are two testimonials from family law professionals.
The first is from Julie Allender,
“I no longer am in a situation of Custody Visitations as I was awarded sole legal and physical Custody in October but I am now entering into a different phase and studying to become a Paralegal and possibly more and I will push your product at every opportunity I can as it is a valuable time and stress savor!”
The second is from Carrie Howell,
“I have been researching family law for a long time. You’re software is by far the most superior out there. Any of my (I can’t use clientele because I research for free) that asks for help has been and will be recommended your software. Thank you for allowing me to try the software so I could check it out for myself to recommend to others.”
We want to pass on two stories that moms have recently emailed.
The first is from Leslie Conn,
“Having a child with special needs (autism) can be overwhelming. Trying to work out a custody schedule in the midst of a divorce can be tiring and expensive. we needed everything to be spelled out in simple terms. The money we saved using your user friendly custody exchange went to extra’s for my sons therapy. There was no confusion on where and when each of us had him. There isn’t a lot my ex and I agreed on but the user friendly program you provided worked for both of us. Thanks, Leslie”
The second is from Hannah Anderson,
“The man I am divorcing was hardly ever involved in my child’s day to day activities for 5 years (TV was more important). The minute I asked for a divorce he told me that he wants joint custody. I used Custody X Change to put together a schedule that I could live with. Then I used the tips to make his time look as high as it could. I think I have convinced him to agree to my schedule and save us both lots of hours fighting through our attorneys.
I used the tip about adding school and daycare hours into his times so that it looks like he gets about 5% more time. I also used the tip about holiday schedules and the tip about starting the report on a date that gives me the percentage that looks the best.”
I thought I’d pass these two stories on. Hope you liked them.
These are just two examples of mothers using Custody X Change to help their custody case. Try out the software and see if it can help you.
If a parent hasn’t been able to resolve their custody situation, and has an upcoming court date, they should come to child custody court prepared.
First, a parent needs a custody agreement. This should include at least the child-sharing arrangement and a section on parenting provisions. The goal is to get the custody agreement accepted as the custody order.
Second, a parent needs proof of the time-share / overnight percentages. This proof should show a detailed listing of each day, totals, and draw the link between the days and the totals (proving that the totals are accurate).
Third, if any time has elapsed since the separation, a parent needs child records since the child-sharing originally began. This should include a time listing by parent, and a journal of events. This is important to have because it reinforces the validity of the child-sharing portion of the presented custody agreement.
All three of these can be created using the Custody X Change software. Many parents who have used the software to prepare for court have sent me emails telling me how great it went. And I’ve received a number of emails from family law attorneys praising the software for how professional the documents are and how easy they are to create.
If you have an upcoming court date, please take a serious look at this software. It’s already helped countless people prepare for court.
Child custody mediation can be an effective way to agree upon a fair child-sharing arrangement, but only if you show up prepared.
With the Custody X Change software, parents can create several different schedules ahead of time that are acceptable. Then these schedules can be used as a starting point for a discussion during mediation. This also provides a way to see the calendar layout for years at a time.
A parent who comes to mediation with these documents shows that they are prepared, and shows that they take mediation seriously.
The custody software is also used by a number of mediators. They do so because the graphic calendar display allows the couple to see exactly what the schedule is, and reduces the misunderstandings.
If you have an upcoming mediation date, please take a serious look at this software. It might change an otherwise frustrating meeting into a cooperative one.
The child-sharing arrangement is a point of conflict for many divorced couples, but it can (and should) be avoided.
How can this conflict be avoided?
The easiest way is for the parents to sit down together and hammer out a fair parental custody arrangement. If both of the parents are involved in creating the arrangement, they will be much more likely to uphold it. And if they both agree that the arrangement is fair, it will likely persist for years to come.
The Custody X Change software lets parents sit down together and easily hammer out a fair child-sharing arrangement, thus reducing the conflict. It can be a great child custody help for any situation.
Two ways it does this is:
- Both parents can see the time-share / overnight percentages at all times, which provides clarity into the fairness and increases trust.
- Both parents can walk away with an identical printed calendar, which eliminates any scheduling confusion (all too common around birthdays and holidays).
This process has an added benefit of reducing the legal fees surrounding a custody battle. It also provides the children, if they are old enough to read a calendar, an easy way to know where they will be spending the holidays.
Not all parents are willing to sit down together (and it does take both to be willing), but those who have done so have sent raving testimonials.
Here are a few general Frequently Asked Questions I get about the Custody X Change software.
Q: I live in (some state), does the software calculate the correct numbers for the child support software here?
A: Yes. The time-share and overnight percentages the software calculates aren’t based on any state laws. These numbers are, however, used in most jurisdictions’ child support formulas.
Q: Can I use the reports as legal attachments where I live?
A: The software doesn’t have anything to do with state laws. A Judge in Idaho, Judge Day, said in regards to the Custody X Change attachment, “Because it accurately and clearly states all the terms, there is no problem using it as an attachment to the decree.” Because it produces professional parenting plans using clear legal language it’s ideal to submit to the court. You will likely have additional forms to file, but the Custody X Change parenting plan attachment should be one of them.
Q: How does this certain feature work?
A: If you’re just getting started I’d suggest you watch the how-to videos I created: http://www.custodyxchange.com/videos/. More complicated questions could be answered by the help file inside the software, although it hasn’t been updated in a little while. If neither of those options turns up any good results, or if you’re having a difficult time, feel free to let me know.
Q: I have a legal question – can you help?
A: Sorry. I can’t give legal advice and I can’t return emails or calls that ask for it.
Q: How’d you get started with this software? Did you go through a nasty divorce?
A: I was approached by a family law attorney in California who wanted to be able to calculate time-share percentages. I’ve only recently been married and don’t even have kids. But I’ve continued to work on the software, even after the attorney and I parted ways, because I’ve seen the hurt caused to the families of divorce, and I want to continue to help. As far as my background, I have a BS in Computer Science from a state school in California and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I wanted to pass on two stories that dads have recently emailed about how they’ve used Custody X Change in their child custody cases.
The first is from Steve Capaul,
“About four months ago I received the sad news that my wife wanted a divorce. Almost immediately I was focused on where our two girls would spend their time. In fact, within 48 hours I was documenting every minute of my time with them to assist my case in a potential custody battle that my ex-wife had threatened.
The divorce got contentious, as many do. Where the girls would spend their time was a major source of conflict. With Custody X Change, I was able to show my ex-wife graphically with two years’ worth of calendars how, if her proposed schedule were reversed, it would be unacceptable and a complete travesty of the notion of parenting time.
Suddenly the trajectory changed and within two weeks I had a written agreement to a grudging but somewhat amicable 50/50 physical custody split.
Thanks, the calendar printout was a great and effective tool.”
And the second is from a guy named David (he didn’t give his last name),
“The new reports look great, and would have been very useful in my divorce. My divorce was final Aug 10th, I can see how this program would be very helpful for someone in the process of divorce.
I had a “happy divorce”, there was no battle, and we split everything including parenting time and custody. The custody exchange program helped me create a much more realistic parenting plan, that helps us visualize and plan. I am utilizing the program to keep track of holidays and vacations as well.
Thanks to your wonderful program, I was able to create a better plan, present it to the kids’ mother and we are able to agree to disagree from the ordered plan.”
These are just two of the many stories that people have about how Custody X Change has helped them with their situation. Download the free edition of the software and find out how it can help you.
Parenting provisions are an important section in a custody agreement, but oft times they are completely or partially neglected. That could spell disaster for the parents down the road.
What exactly are parenting provisions?
Parenting provisions are what’s left over in a parenting plan when you take out the scheduling pieces. These are the all the additional statues that both parents have to abide by or they are in violation of the court order.
A few of the common topics covered in parenting provisions are: health-care, travel, phone contact, moving, transportation, clothing, school records, and child care.
The bottom line is this: if it’s in the agreement, both parents have to abide by what it says; and if it’s not in the agreement, both parents can do however they please.
How can Custody X Change help?
Custody X Change includes a long list of parenting provisions that you can just click to include. This makes it so great, since you can use the software to discover provisions you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of ahead of time.
I’ll give two short examples.
First, let’s say either parent wants to have the kids during the other parent’s time if they are in daycare. All you have to do is check the “Right of First Option of Child Care” box, and type in the number of hours it applies to. Now it’ll be included in the agreement. However, if it’s not in the agreement, and the parents disagree… there’s no recourse.
Second, let’s say the either parent wants to prohibit the children from having passports (or taking the children out of the country, for that matter). If it’s not in the agreement, one parent might find out about it after the fact. However, if you click the box and include these provisions ahead of time, both parents are legally protected from this type of malfeasance.
So if you haven’t already done so, please take a look at the Parenting Provisions section of the Custody X Change software. It’s a big time-saver in creating an agreement or parenting plan, and could also help you to discover some of these common provisions for your own use.
Do you know what some of the first child custody advice family law professionals tell parents in a custody situation?
It’s that parents need to keep a custody journal.
And in that journal, parents should keep track of at least the following:
- Modified exchange times
- Reasons for modifications
- Notes for the day
Now, simply having written something down in a journal doesn’t prove that it actually happened. It’s important to be able to back up any claims that are made about times or happenings.
But, having a well-organized journal does go a very long way, which is exactly why family law professionals tell parents to start keeping one as soon as possible.
So how does Custody X Change fit in?
The software Custody X Change lets parents journal notes and track modifications to exchanges. It is, hands-down, the easiest way to keep track of everything that’s going on.
And once your data is in the software, you can print out professional documents that show three things:
- How much time you actually had the kids (compared with what you were court ordered to have)
- The reasons you entered why each child visitation was changed
- A daily journal to show a log of any other sorts of happenings that you’d like
These reports clearly reveal what’s really been going on. And if you’re going to want to show discrepancies between the court-ordered schedule and the real-life schedule, it can make going about that a whole lot easier.
What if you get more time than with your kids than the court-ordered parenting plan?
First, that’s great. It’s wonderful to get more quality time. It also could impact the child support order.
If the other parent often shows up late to the exchanges, or occasionally gives you an extra overnight, or sometimes goes out of town and leaves the kids with you, or any other reason that you have the kids more time… If that’s the case, then you really need to compute exactly how much extra time you’ve been getting.
A little time here and a little time there can really add up.
And more time could mean a more favorable child support order.
With Custody X Change, you can visually enter on a calendar each modified exchange, and it will compute the percentages for you. It will also produce a report that proves the percentages and shows the reasons you entered for each difference. If you have a greater time-share with the children, then you can lower your child support payments. If you are receiving support, you should get more money if you have extra time.
The free edition of the Custody X Change software will let you put in all your tracking information and start journaling. You can then see how much those extra times will impact your overall time.
Do you know why many child support orders are incorrectly calculated?
First, child support is based primarily on two things (depends on where you live though):
- How much the parents make
- How much time each parent gets (timeshare percentage or overnight percentage)
It’s easy to figure out how much money each parent makes. You just ask the employers. The tricky part of the formula that gets messed up is the time-share percentage / overnight percentage.
The reason being is that custody schedules can be complicated. A typical schedule can look like this:
- 1st, 3rd, and alternating 5th weekends;
- Tuesday night with the parent who has the weekend, Wednesday night with the parent who doesn’t;
- Alternating weeks during summer and winter break;
- Ten or so holidays that each gets swapped even/odd, and each has their own times for drop-off and pick-up;
- And, special events and birthdays that are swapped every other year.
Without software to accurately compute all of those times, courts, mediators, and even attorneys usually just short-hand guess at it.
But plugging an estimated time-share / overnight percentage into the child support formula can make the child support order incorrect.
That’s why you need Custody X Change in order to use your state’s child support software.
With Custody X Change, you just put all that scheduling information into the software, choose your dates, and the software computes the percentages precisely and accurately.
And it goes one step further than just computing the numbers. It lets you see which small tweaks to the schedule can make a large impact to timeshare. This can help lower your child support, or help you get the fair money to raise your child.
The free edition of the Custody X Change software will let you input your schedule and it will show your plan’s percentages. Please try it out.
A parent who begins a child custody case usually has a lot of questions. Here are some of the common child custody questions and their answers to help parents get started.
1. How do I begin a child custody case? Technically a case begins when you file for child custody at the courthouse. To do this, you simply fill out some papers and file them with the court. In some states you will need to have those papers served to the other parent and then they have a chance to respond. When you file your papers, you will receive a court date. Really, though, a custody case begins as soon as the parents know they will be separating or divorcing. When this happens, parents should start thinking about the custody arrangements they want and how they will make things work.
2. Do I need an attorney for my custody case? This completely depends on your situation. It’s usually a good idea to consult with an attorney and see what they say about your situation. It doesn’t hurt to find out how they will handle things. If it doesn’t sound like it will be too complicated, then you may not need an attorney. If you and the other parent can work together on a parenting plan or work things out, you can probably handle things on your own. If you and the other parent are involved in a complex custody battle, you probably want a lawyer to help you.
3. How do I win a child custody case? If you end up with a custody agreement that you like, you’ve won your child custody case. If both parents are happy with the arrangements, it is even better because they will be more likely to abide by the plan and it will last longer. You can win your case by working with the other parent to create an agreement or going to court and convincing the court to accept your plan.
4. How do I prepare for a custody case? If you are going to court for your case, you need to be prepared. You should create a parenting plan that you think is the best for the child and have reasons why the court should adopt that plan. Those reasons should all be focused on why your plan is in the best interest of the child. As part of your parenting plan, you should include a custody and visitation schedule, a holiday schedule, any parenting provisions, and other documents that you want included.
Every state has different child custody laws, so you need to make sure that you are very well acquainted with the laws in your state when involved in a custody situation. However, there are general child custody guidelines that the states use when they make their laws. Here are some of these guidelines that explain what your rights are in child custody.
1. You have the right to see your child. Each parent has the right to visit the children. Unless a court decides that the child visiting one of the parents will harm the child, the court will want the children to have time with both parents. Many times if the court is worried about one of the parents, they will set up supervised visits to make sure that everything goes okay. A parent requesting supervised visits is also a child custody right that can help protect the children.
2. If you are the primary caretaker of the children, you have the right to receive child support and help from the other parent. Sometimes a situation arises where one of the parents leaves and the other parent has full responsibility of the children. If this is the case, that parent has the right to receive financial and other help from the other parent. The parent should file for child support at the court, and if the other parent doesn’t pay, they can get help from the court by garnishing wages and other methods.
3. Your child has the right to build relationships with both parents. Sometimes parents get so caught up in their own child custody rights that they forget the real reason behind the rights is to protect the children. The main right that children have after their parents separate is to still be taken care of and provided for. They also have the right to have a relationship with their mother and father. Each parent should be careful about what they say about the other parent in front of the children and try to resolve all custody issues in the best interest of the children.