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Things you need to know about a parenting agreement

If you're going through a divorce or thinking about moving in this direction in the near future, you must turn your attention to the well-being of your children (if you have any).

Even though you need to take care of yourself (both mentally and physically) during this difficult time, it's imperative that you do what's best for your children as well. Neglecting to do so could make life more difficult on them, and that's not something you want.

To start, a parenting agreement is exactly what it sounds like. You work through your differences with the other parent, often in mediation, to settle on an agreement that will allow you to raise your children in the best possible manner.

While a parenting agreement can and will differ from one situation to the next, here are some things that most people include:

  • Which parent has physical custody (where the child will live) and which one has visitation rights
  • Which parent has legal custody (this could be both)
  • Where the child will spend major life events, including but not limited to summer vacations, holidays and birthdays
  • A plan for handling contact with other family members, such as grandparents
  • A dispute resolution system, which can help in the future should you have a disagreement with your former spouse

Once you finalize a parenting agreement through mediation, it is then submitted to a family law judge for final approval. As long as everything checks out, you don't have to spend any time in court. Instead, the agreement will go into action and you're required by law to follow through with the terms and conditions.

It's not always easy to fully comply with the finer details of a parenting agreement, so make sure you have some flexibility. For example, if your ex-spouse asks to change a visitation day or time, don't be quick to shoot him or her down. Instead, talk through it to see if there is a way to make it work.

Creating a parenting agreement can be more challenging than it sounds, but knowing your legal rights and what you're fighting for can go a long way in putting you in position to succeed.

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