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Parenting Agreement

The vast majority of child custody cases are able to be resolved before a case needs to go to court. This can happen as a result of informal negotiations between the parents or other parties (and their attorneys) or through alternative dispute resolution processes like mediation or collaborative law. Below is a discussion about parenting agreements and court approval of the same in child custody cases.

Parenting Agreement

What Is a Parenting Agreement or a Parenting Plan?

If the parents or other parties in a custody dispute (and their attorneys) negotiate and resolve all issues related to child custody and visitation, whether informally or through out-of-court processes like mediation or collaborative law, the couple’s decisions are finalized in detail in a written agreement. This agreement may be referred to as a “settlement agreement” in some states, while in other states the document may be called a “custody agreement” or “parenting agreement.”

What Should the Parenting Plan Include?

Although one should keep in mind that parenting agreements will vary widely from case to case, these agreements typically cover the key areas affecting the parents’ children, such as:

  • Where the child will live (called physical custody);
  • Visitation schedules
  • Who will be involved in major decisions related to the child’s upbringing and welfare (called legal custody);
  • With whom the child will spend major holidays, birthdays, and vacations (including schedules)
  • How contact with grandparents, family friends, and other third parties will be handled; and
  • How disputes and changes to the agreement will be handled.

Keep in mind that the above are simply some of the most common and important issues dealt with by parents who are splitting up. Parents can customize an agreement in countless ways to their and their children’s specific needs.

Parenting Agreements and Court Approval

The parenting agreement is usually submitted to a judge for final approval. If the custody agreement is part of the parents’ divorce, the agreement is filed in court in the county/district branch of state court where the divorce petition was filed. An informal court hearing may follow, during which the judge may ask some basic factual questions, including whether each party understands and chose to voluntarily sign the agreement. As long as the judge is satisfied that the agreement was fairly negotiated and that it was made with the best interests of the child in mind, the agreement will almost always receive court approval.

Violating a Court-Approved Parenting Plan

In most states, the custody or parenting agreement then becomes a binding court order or “decree,” dictating the parents’ (or other parties’) rights and obligations under the agreement. The parties to the agreement must stick to it or they may face legal consequences. For example, if a parenting agreement has been converted into a court order, and the agreement is violated by a father who repeatedly fails to return his daughter on time after weekend visits, the mother may go to court to enforce the agreement and resolve the matter.

Get Legal Help Drafting a Parenting Agreement

Having a parenting agreement can definitely save you a lot of time, money, and anxiety during a divorce proceeding. However, it’s not always easy for separated parents to speak to each other, let alone come to an agreement. That’s where family law attorneys can make a big difference as they have experience obtaining agreements even in the most contentions of separations. Get help today and find an experienced family law attorney near you.

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If you have a question about child custody question or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will aggressively fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.