Creating the Right Parenting Agreement
Tips and ideas on creating a parenting agreement that works for both parents. Information on scheduling, decision making, financial issues and more.
You can write your own parenting agreement (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting agreements and parenting schedules.
Your parenting agreement should contain all of the information that you and the other parent need to continue to raise your child after you separate.
The general parts of a parenting agreement are:
- A parenting time schedule that shows when the child spends time with each parent
- Information about how the parents will make decisions for the child
- Information about finances and expenses
- Parenting provisions and rules about raising the child
- Any other information you want to include
Your agreement should be personalized to fit the needs of your child and your unique situation. Each part of your agreement should work for your family and benefit your child.
The parenting time schedule
You make your parenting time schedule to show when your child is with each parent.
A good schedule has the following:
- A residential or every day schedule that shows where the child is on weekdays and on weekends
- A holiday schedule that shows where your child will spend holidays
- A school break and vacation schedule that shows where your child is during school breaks and vacations
- Special events that show the times when the normal schedule changes
Custody X Change guides you through the process of creating each part of your schedule. Then, it puts your schedule into the calendar so you know exactly what's going on.
Creating your schedule with Custody X Change allows you to:
- Explore different options for your schedule until you find the right one for your child
- Maximize the parenting time you have with your child
- Easily make changes to your schedule as circumstances change
- Sync your custody schedule with your Blackberry, iPhone, Palm/PDA, Outlook, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, Windows Live, etc
- Print multiple copies of your schedule so you and the other parent always know what's going on
Decision making responsibility
Your agreement needs to explain how you and the other parent will make decisions for your child about medical care, dental care, education, religion, extra-curricular activities, day-to-day decisions about upbringing, etc.
Here are some ways you can share or divide the decision making responsibility:
- One parent can have the authority to make big decisions
- Both parents can have authority to make big decisions
- Both parents can be involved in making all big decision
- Each parent can be in charge of certain types of decisions
- When each parent has the child, they make decisions for the child
When you make your agreement in Custody X Change you can include information about how you and the other parent will make decisions for your child.
Finances and expenses
In most states, you need to file separate child support papers along with your parenting agreement. You may want to include a copy of the child support papers and information in your agreement so you have everything together.
You can use the visitation timeshare calculator in Custody X Change to help you get the right information for your child support calculation.
You should also come up with a plan for how you and the other parent will handle additional expenses for the child and put the information in your agreement. This includes expenses for school activities and other things that child support may not cover.
Parenting rules and provisions
You can put addition parenting rules and provisions in your agreement to make the custody situation work better.
Some common provisions that parents include are:
- The right of first refusal, which gives the other parent the first right to have the children if a parent needs child care for their parenting time
- Information about how transportation to and from exchanges will go
- A rule that a parent must provide the other parent with an itinerary when they travel with the child
- A rule that parents will not speak negatively about the other parent in front of the child
- A process for how parents will resolve disputes about the agreement or parenting time
- A method for making changes to the agreement as the child's needs change
You can add any provisions that will help you and your child. Think about common problems in your situation and come up with a provision or rule that will help resolve that problem.
Custody X Change has a list of provisions that you can choose from to include in your agreement and you can also make your own custom rules to put in your agreement.
Any other information
If your child has special needs or your situation is unique, you should address that in your agreement. You can follow a parenting plan template and then include any extra information that is relevant for your circumstances, and this will make your agreement better.
You may want to track your actual parenting time and keep a parenting time journal after you create your parenting agreement. Tracking and journaling can help you feel more in control of your custody situation.
Tracking your visitation time lets you know if the schedule is being followed and if it is working. If the schedule isn't being followed, you may need to make some changes to it so it works better. And, if the actual parenting time is quite different then the scheduled time, your child support could change.
You can also keep a parenting time journal where you record information about your time with your children. You can use these notes when you communicate with the other parent, or just keep them for your personal records.
Custody X Change has an actual-time tracking and journaling feature that lets you:
- Enter in the actual parenting time and compare it to the scheduled parenting time
- Print a report that shows the difference between scheduled and actual parenting time
- Keep a custody journal and write notes about what happens during parenting time
- Print your parenting time journal
- Keep all of your tracking information in one place
- Use the documents from the software to modify your schedule in court or mediation
Check your local and state laws to find out how to file your agreement. You may need to file specific papers or you may be able to submit your own written plan.
The following documents from Custody X Change can help you when you file:
- a calendar of the custody schedule
- a written report of the schedule
- a list of the provisions
- a detailed timeshare report
If your state requires specific documents when you file your agreement you can write the information from the reports onto the papers.
If your state lets you submit your own plan, you can submit the papers from Custody X Change. The software also lets you export all of your documents to Word, PDF, and Excel so you can make changes as you need to.
If you and the other parent agree on the plan then you can submit it to the court and the judge will approve it. If you and the other parent do not cooperate on the agreement you will go to court and the judge will decide the parenting agreement.
After your agreement is approved by the court and the judge it becomes an official court order. This means that you and the other parent are legally obligated to follow it. If either parent doesn't follow the agreement the court can intervene.
If you don't file your agreement with the court, the court cannot help you if the agreement is violated.