Family Law Custody Agreements Made Outside Court

By Heather Frances J.D.

When you divorce, the court has authority to order a custody arrangement for your family, but you and your spouse can design your own parenting plan for the court to consider. State laws govern divorce and all issues pertaining to divorce, including child custody and support, so laws can vary from state to state. In many states, custody and the amount of time a child spends with each parent is factored into the calculation for child support.

When you divorce, the court has authority to order a custody arrangement for your family, but you and your spouse can design your own parenting plan for the court to consider. State laws govern divorce and all issues pertaining to divorce, including child custody and support, so laws can vary from state to state. In many states, custody and the amount of time a child spends with each parent is factored into the calculation for child support.

Agreements

Courts typically encourage parents to reach their own custody agreements. When you reach agreement, you save time in court and a customized plan is often better for your family than a court-determined schedule. You can reach an agreement without assistance or use a mediator or attorney to help you negotiate with your spouse. Some states have mediation programs ordered by the court to help you reach an agreement.

Ready to start your LLC? Start an LLC Online Now

Drafting an Agreement

If you draft your own custody agreement, it can address any important issues that might arise. In addition to outlining your child’s living arrangements and visitation time, it can discuss other topics such as holiday and vacation schedules and what happens if one parent wants to move away from the area. It can also state whether both parents have a say in major decisions for your child, such as where he will go to school, whether he will attend religious services and what medical care he may receive.

Court Approval

Before your agreement can have any legal effect, the court must approve it. When you present your plan to the court, the judge will consider whether it is in the best interests of your child. If it appears so, the judge will likely incorporate your agreement into the final divorce decree. Once this happens, the agreement becomes a court order and is enforceable just like any other court order. If one parent fails to abide by the order, the other spouse can file contempt charges with the court.

Modification

Circumstances often change after the court issues the original custody order or divorce decree, so courts maintain authority to modify the order. Depending on state law, the court may require a showing that your circumstances have changed significantly before it can modify the order. To obtain a modification, you or your ex-spouse can file a motion with the court. The motion must be properly served on the other parent. Typically, the court will approve the modification if you and your ex-spouse agree on it. If not, the court may schedule a hearing to hear arguments from both sides before issuing a decision.

Ready to start your LLC? Start an LLC Online Now
Ohio's Temporary Child Custody Laws

References

Related articles

How to Resolve Disputes Over a Divorce Agreement

Couples who want to avoid the time, stress and expense of a litigated divorce often work together to reach a divorce agreement, but it’s not always easy. Couples can strongly disagree during the negotiation of a divorce agreement and even after the agreement is signed. However, the legal system provides options that can help couples resolve disputes that may arise concerning a divorce agreement.

Can a Noncustodial Parent Stop Paying Child Support & Gain Sole Custody of His Child?

Divorced parents often battle over child custody arrangements and child support payments, but the courts treat these items separately. Both parents must comply with court-ordered obligations to pay child support and to allow parenting time until the court order is formally changed by the court. To obtain sole custody, the noncustodial parent must file a motion with the court to modify the existing custody order.

Can You Execute Your Own Divorce Separation Agreement in Michigan?

Michigan law allows a divorcing couple to execute their own separation agreement -- sometimes called a settlement agreement. A separation agreement is a legal contract that spells out exactly how the parties will divide all debts and assets. It also addresses spousal and child support, child custody and visitation rights. You are not required to have an attorney prepare this document.

LLCs, Corporations, Patents, Attorney Help

Related articles

Is a Verbal Agreement Binding in a Divorce Decree in Colorado?

An agreement can make the divorce process move along quicker and cheaper since you won’t spend time and money ...

What Is a "Change in Circumstances" in a Custody Case?

Whether the case is concerning an original custody order or a custody modification, courts in every state are primarily ...

Do You Have to Go to Classes for Temporary Custody in Arkansas?

While parents struggle over custody and other major issues of divorce, their breakup's affect on their children can be ...

How Can Custody Be Established Without a Judgment?

Often parents do not to want the legal system involved in their family affairs, especially when it comes to their kids. ...

Browse by category