Can my ex and I work out our custody schedule outside of court?
Many of us have heard stories about Florida parents fighting for custody of their kids in court. Once both parents have stated their respective cases, the judge will make a final decision as to child custody and visitation arrangements. In many cases, the court will award joint custody, where both parents will share physical and legal custody of the child. In other words, both parents will be responsible for caring for the child and making major decisions relating to the child’s upbringing.
Drafting a parenting agreement
If you and your ex cannot agree when it comes to your children, having the court make these custody decisions for your family may be necessary. However, the judge will never know your family the way you do. If you and your ex can come to an agreement outside of the courtroom, you can come up with a plan that works best for your family. As you and your ex draft your parenting agreement, be sure to include the following:
- Custody schedule (alternating weeks, every other weekend, etc.)
- Holiday/vacation schedule
- Decision-making (both parents have power to decide where the child should go to school, etc.)
- Communication between parents and between parents and child
- Process for resolving disputes
- Child support
Once you and your ex have drafted your parenting agreement, your attorney will present it to the court for final approval. Generally, as long as your agreement caters to the best interests of the child, the judge will approve the agreement. The agreement will then become a court order that both parents are obligated to follow.
If you need assistance drafting a parenting agreement, it may be wise to consult with a family law attorney. Your attorney can make sure your child remains a priority, while supporting you throughout the process.