One of the things Washington parents who are getting divorced will need to work out is their child custody agreement. Parents can collaborate to create the agreement and then submit it to the court for approval or modification. However, to ensure that the agreement works for the family and is accepted by the court, parents should create a detailed, specific document.
Understand the terms
To create a solid custody agreement, you must first understand the language that needs to be used. When negotiating custody issues, parents can have joint physical custody, which means both parents share in the parenting, or an arrangement where one parent has primary custody of the child. You will also need to define legal custody, which refers to a parent’s decision-making power over issues such as the child’s health and education, and physical custody, which refers to which parent is taking care of the child daily.
When creating your child custody agreement, you should be as specific as possible to avoid potential future situations. Some of the issues to address in the custody agreement include:
- How much time the child will spend with each parent
- The child’s schedule, including vacation time from school
- When and where the child will switch from one parent to the other
- How education, religion and extracurricular activities will be handled
- How parents will communicate about issues related to custody
- How parents will address any needed changes to the agreement in the future
Collaboration is important
Even if you and the other parent cannot fully agree on all issues, you do not necessarily need to end up in court. You can opt for mediation to have a neutral third party help you work out your issues and reach an agreement that you can submit to the court.