Getting divorced or ending a relationship with the other parent of your children can be extremely stressful. You have to deal with the emotional impact of the change and take care of the logistics of going from a two-parent household to sharing custody or possibly being the sole caregiver. If both parents want to remain involved, you will need to have a custody agreement. The purpose of a custody agreement is to outline the type of custody each parent has, the amount of time the children will be with each parent, parenting provisions related to important information such as medical care and schooling, and details on child support. If you plan to co-parent, it is important to have a custody agreement. Some of the basics you need to understand as you start this process include the different types of custody, options for setting up a custody agreement, and how a lawyer can help.
Different types of custody
There are two broad categories of custody – legal and physical – and they can each be broken down further to include joint legal custody, sole legal custody, joint physical custody, sole physical custody, and primary physical custody. Legal custody describes the right of a parent to make decisions about the care of the child. Physical custody describes having the child physically in your care. Both parents have equal rights to legal custody unless something happens to cause the courts to adjust it. If a child spends more time in the physical custody of one parent it does not necessarily change the legal custody rights of the other parent. As you try to find a custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the children, it is important to consider both types of custody.
Options for setting up a custody agreement
There is more than one way to set up a custody agreement. You can work directly with your ex and come up with a plan that you both agree to. You also have the option of going to mediation, working on a custody agreement through your lawyers, or going all the way to court if there is no way to come to an agreement through the other options. What is inside the custody agreements can vary significantly from family to family. The most important factor is to find an agreement that is in the best interest of the children.
How a lawyer can help
A lawyer can be a big help in the process of creating a custody agreement. A lawyer can help you decide what should go into the custody agreement, help you and your ex determine what is best for the children, and be your advocate if things get difficult during the process. It is always a good idea to get legal advice in a situation as important as the custody of your children. You can get started by setting up a consultation with a lawyer to discuss your situation. The consultation will help you and the lawyer determine what type of help you need and how to best move forward.