Must Haves in a Custody Agreement

When it comes to custody agreements, there are certain key factors that should always be included in order to protect both parents and children. Whether working with an attorney or drafting an agreement independently, make sure these must-haves are addressed:

1. Physical Custody Arrangements – This is one of the most important elements of any custody agreement, as it outlines where the child will primarily reside and how time with each parent will be divided. Make sure to include specific schedules for weekday and weekend visitation, as well as holiday and summer break arrangements.

2. Legal Custody – This refers to decision-making authority regarding major life events, such as medical treatments, education, and religious affiliation. Ideally, both parents will share legal custody unless there are extenuating circumstances that suggest one parent should have sole decision-making power.

3. Child Support – While it may not feel like a pleasant topic to discuss, determining child support amounts is crucial for ensuring the child`s financial needs are met. The amount and frequency of payments should be specified, as well as any agreements on how that money will be used.

4. Communication Protocols – Establishing clear guidelines for communication between parents can help avoid misunderstandings and disputes. This may include agreed-upon methods of communication, such as email or text, and a designated point person for handling scheduling issues.

5. Dispute Resolution – Even with a well-crafted custody agreement in place, conflicts between parents can still arise. Including language outlining methods for resolving disputes, such as mediation, can save time and money in the long run.

By making sure these elements are covered in any custody agreement, parents can feel secure in knowing that the needs of their children are being prioritized and that both parties are on the same page. Remember to consult with an attorney or other legal professional to ensure that all state and local custody laws are being followed.

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