One of the most challenging aspects of divorce is determining who gets custody of the children. After all, to you, the time you have with your children is more valuable than anything else you have.
Fortunately, most cases involving child custody can be resolved without having to go to court. This is possible through informal negotiations or an alternative dispute resolution process such as mediation. Here is a look at what creating a parenting agreement involves during a divorce proceeding in Texas.
What exactly are parenting agreements?
Parenting agreements are essentially written agreements detailing the custody-related decisions that divorcing spouses have made together. The following are several items often covered in these types of agreements:
- Which parent will have physical custody of the children
- What the visitation schedule will be
- Which parent will make major decisions regarding the upbringing and welfare of the children (known as legal custody)
- How the parents will handle contact with third parties, such as grandparents and family friends
- Which parent will spend time with the children during vacations, major holidays and birthdays
A parenting agreement can also explain how the two parents will handle changes or disputes related to the terms of the agreement.
What happens after you create a parenting agreement?
Once you and your future ex-spouse put together a parenting agreement, you will submit it to the court for a judge's approval. The judge will ask you both some basic questions to ensure that you signed the agreement voluntarily and understand what the agreement says.
If the judge feels that the agreement is fair and most importantly considers it in the children's best interests, you can expect the agreement to receive his or her approval.
What if your ex-spouse violates the agreement?
Once your parenting agreement becomes a decree that dictates both parents' obligations and rights, you both must comply with it. Otherwise, you could end up facing legal consequences.
For instance, if your ex-spouse keeps returning your child to you late after their weekend visits, you can enforce the terms of your parenting agreement and ultimately resolve the child custody matter by going to court. An applied understanding of the law may help you to protect your rights and best interests in such a situation in the Lone Star state.