Sample Custody Stipulations: 9 Common Examples

It's important that parents include necessary custody stipulations in their custody agreement or parenting plan. Custody stipulations (also called provisions) provide rules and principles for 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.

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Why stipulations are important

Parents should include stipulations in their parenting plan for anything they want the other parent to be required to follow. The information in the parenting plan becomes the custody order, 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.

Common custody stipulations

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 extracurricular events

It is usually wise for parents to include some stipulations for how they will handle school and extracurricular 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 extracurricular 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 extracurricular 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.

4. Stipulations about travel with the children

Each parent will most likely have vacation time with the children. It's important that parents include necessary stipulations about vacations so there are no surprises. Parents can add a provision that states the other parent gets a travel itinerary when a parent takes the child on vacation. They can also include a stipulation that says a parent must get written permission from the other parent to take the child out of the state or country. Another common provision is that a parent must notify the other parent if they get the child a passport.

5. Notification of current information

Unless there is a stipulation in the custody agreement that says otherwise, a parent can move and not tell the other parent their address. Some provisions to consider are: each parent must keep the other parent updated on a current address and telephone number, a parent must notify the other parent that they have moved within so many days of moving, that the parents must tell each other if they plan on moving the child to another residence, etc.

6. Child care

Parents can include stipulations so that the mother and father are on the same page about child care. These can ensure that both parents know who is caring for the child at all times. For example, stipulating that if a parent needs a babysitter, the other parent has the right of first refusal, that certain people are not allowed to care for the child, etc.

7. Contact between the parents and the children

These custody stipulations setup rules that the parents must follow about how they contact and interact with the children. The parents can include a stipulation that outlines when it is appropriate for a parent to call the children when the children are at the other parent's house, if the parent and the child can communicate in other ways (e.g., telephone or Skype calls), etc. Parents can also choose to include stipulations that say the parents will not use the children as a messenger and the parents will not speak negatively about the other parent in front of the children.

8. Prohibiting certain substances and practices in front of the child

If necessary, the parents can include stipulations that require the parents not drink alcohol a certain number of hours or days before caring for the child and that the child not be exposed to tobacco smoke. The parents can also include a provision that requires either parent to submit to random drug testing. These should only be used if a parent has had a problem in the past.

9. Preventing future disputes and arguments

Parents generally include, and some courts require parents to include, a provision that spells out how the parents will resolve future disputes and make changes to the custody agreement and schedule.

The easiest way to make a parenting plan

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