You can determine custody and visitation without a court order. All you need to do is draft a Parenting Agreement. If you and your ex are of one mind about how the children will spend their time, just have your attorney draw up a Parenting Agreement. You can decide to have joint child custody.
The first item to address in a Parenting Agreement is custody. Usually, one person has primary custody with visitation to the other. Sometimes, though, the parties work out a 50/50 timeshare with the children spending one week with the mother and the next with the father.
If one person is going to have primary custody, the next issue to work out is visitation. A standard 80/20 plan has the children spending a 48 hour weekend with the non custodial parent every other week and a 4 hour block of time one evening a week. The non-custodial parent also has every other holiday. This may or may not be the best arrangement for your family. But working out the visitation schedule without a court order generally leaves everyone more happy.
Child Support and Joint Child Custody
Your Parenting Agreement needs to discuss finances. Who is going to pay support? If neither party is going to pay support to the other, then that should be specified as well. If you go to court, support will be ordered by guideline. But if you are making the arrangements on your own, you can decide whatever works best between the two of you.
The Parenting Agreement can also address issues such as education, medical care, and religious upbringing. If you agree to something and have both parties sign it, if there are conflicts later, the Parenting Agreement is admissible in court. Generally, it will have more strength if both parties have been individually advised by an attorney.
You can also include those things that are important to you, but aren’t part of the required child custody documents. For instance, some parties agree to pay for half of college tuition until a child receives a BA or turns 23, which ever comes earlier. The court never orders this outside of an agreement but will enforce it if an agreement was reached.
Having a Parenting Agreement can give you peace of mind about how your children are to be raised into the future.
If you are ready to negotiate a Parenting Agreement for joint child custody, call me at (877) 369-5294 and I will be happy to assist you.