Shared Custody Agreements
You can write up your own custody 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 parenting plans. You make each part of your agreement, and then you can print professional documents of your plan.
Different states use different terms and meanings to describe shared custody.
In Texas, it is called Joint Managing Conservatorship. In Delaware, Shared Physical Custody means the child spends at least 35% of the time with each parent. In Alaska, Shared Physical Custody means the child must spend at least 30% of the time with each parent. In California, shared custody is called Joint Custody.
For all intents and purposes, the term “shared custody” as used on this page shall refer to parents sharing physical custody of their child as opposed to only one parent having custody, regardless of the definition of shared custody by various jurisdictions.
If you are in a situation where the other parent has harmed or has the potential to harm your child, you should attempt to obtain sole custody in order to protect your child. A child should not be subjected to living with a parent who is violent, abusive, or has a substance abuse problem. A parent that is unwilling or unable to protect his or her child from harm should not have custody of the child.
If a child has two good parents, common sense dictates that the child should be able to spend time with both of them. Studies have shown that children benefit from having frequent and ongoing contact with both of their parents. It is in the best interest of a child to be raised by two good, loving parents.
Sharing custody is the best way to help your child have a good relationship with both parents. Children with two parents who are actively involved in their lives generally grow up to be better adjusted and experience less depression that children with only one active parent do. Parents do not have to live together in order to co-parent and raise their child.
You will need to work with the other parent to create your custody agreement. Some parents are able to set their differences aside for the sake of their child and create a plan. Other parents will need help, such as counseling or mediation, in order to reach an agreement.
Your custody agreement should include provisions that deal with the child's legal and physical custody. You will need to decide who will be responsible for making the important decisions in your child's life and include rules you both agree to follow.
Your agreement should also include methods for reviewing and modifying the plan. The needs of your child may change as he or she grows and you may need to make changes to the plan in the future.
Your custody agreement should contain a method of dispute resolution in case you disagree about something in the future. Returning to court should be the last option.
You will need to include a child visitation schedule that states when the child will be with each parent. Your visitation schedule should consist of a regular visitation schedule that dictates where the child will be on a routine basis as well as a schedule for holidays and vacations.
You may also want to designate a primary residence for the child. This will be the address you use on school forms, for medical records, and other important paperwork.
You can use Custody X Change to create a well-organized and professional custody agreement. You simply navigate through each section of the software and enter the requested information.
You can even use Custody X Change to create a proposed parenting plan to present to the other parent. You can create the parenting plan and give a copy to the other parent for review. Then you can work out a compromise on the issues you don't agree on. It is easy to go back and make changes to your custody plan when you use Custody X Change.
Once you've made your revisions you will be ready to present your custody agreement to the court.
The amount of time your child will spend with each parent depends on your child and your situation. Shared parenting does not necessarily mean the child is going to have to spend an equal amount of time with both parents.
A 50/50 custody plan divides the child's time evenly. This may work well for parents that live close to each other because the child can still go to school and see his or her friends without having to be driven across town.
If you want to have a 50/50 custody agreement, you may want to consider either a 5/2/2/5 plan or a 4/3/3/4 plan. The child would spend five days with mom, then two days with dad, then two days with mom, then five days with dad (or 4/3/3/4, depending on the nature of your schedule). This allows your child to spend the same amount of time with each of you without going too long in between seeing each parent.
Your schedule is entirely up to you. You could have the child spend every Wednesday and Thursday with one parent, then alternate weekends. You could exchange the child every Wednesday so he spends a week with each of you. You could have the child go to one parent's house every day after school until the other parent gets home from work. Examine your schedules and go from there.
When you use Custody X Change to create your visitation schedule, you have the flexibility and means to create your schedule any way you would like. You can set a repeating cycle, add in holidays, and print out the schedule in written and calendar forms. It is an excellent tool you can use to create your shared custody agreement.