February 10, 2018
A custody agreement is a contract between you and your child’s other parent that spells out how you will share custody of your child. These contracts can be stand-alone documents or part of a separation agreement. Once both parties have agreed to a custody agreement, it can be submitted to the court for approval.
There are many benefits to using a custody agreement, mainly that you avoid the costs and stress involved in litigation and that you and your child’s other parent stay in control of the process. If you can’t successfully negotiate a parenting plan, then the court will have to decide your child custody case.
Provisions in Your Parenting Plan
A parenting plan determines which parent has custody of your child, but there are actually two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to the actual, physical care of the child or children. One parent can have primary physical custody, or the parents can have joint physical custody, which allows each parent to share time with their child.
Legal custody refers to the important decisions a parent must make about their child’s life. This could include any of the following decisions:
- Healthcare decisions, including when to seek medical treatment and what type of treatment to get
- Education decisions, such as which school to attend
- Religious decisions, such as which church to attend
The parents can share legal custody, or one parent can have primary legal custody.
The Best Interests of the Child
If the parents can’t work out a parenting plan, a court will decide these issues based on what they consider to be in the best interests of the child. Even if the parents do come to an agreement, a court needs to approve of the contract and enter it as an official custody order.
A court can modify or deny a custody agreement if it is not in the best interests of the child. This rarely happens when both parents come to an agreement, but it is possible.
If you have recently separated from your spouse or are involved in a child custody dispute, consult a family law attorney to learn more about your options for negotiating a custody agreement or presenting your case in court.
King Law handles family law matters in North and South Carolina, including divorce, alimony, and child support cases. Follow us on Facebook for more information and updates on family law issues.