How to Write Up Your Own Custody & Support Agreement

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How to Write Up Your Own Custody & Support Agreement

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

If you are getting a divorce and have children, you and your ex-spouse will need to draw up a custody and support agreement that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each parent. The divorce court can help parents reach consensus on child and custody issues, but reaching an agreement on your own can facilitate cooperation and save you both time and money. State laws on child support and custody issues vary, so you must understand your state's guidelines if you plan on writing your own agreement.

Woman holding a folder and looking at a man as he reviews documents

Once you and your ex-spouse have reached an agreement, you must file it with the court. After it is filed, a judge reviews the document and, if accepted, enters an order reflecting the terms you and your ex-spouse have agreed upon. A judge always has the discretion to reject or amend certain provisions if good cause is found to do so.

 

1. Decide what type of custody each parent gets.

First and foremost, both parents need to decide what type of custody each parent gets upon getting a divorce. Custody can be classified as joint or sole. Joint custody means that both parents share custody of the child, while sole custody means one parent is considered the custodial parent and the other is the non custodial parent. Custody can also be either physical or legal. A parent with physical custody lives with the child and cares for the child on a day-to-day basis. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make important decisions for the child, such as where they go to school and what medical treatment they receive.

2. Describe your agreed upon arrangement.

Once you and your ex-spouse have agreed on custody, you must describe the type of arrangement in the custody agreement. Be as detailed as you can so that you limit the chances of confusion down the road. Explain the reasoning behind your decision so that a judge can make an informed verdict based upon what is in the best interests of the child.

3. Provide a detailed visitation and parenting plan.

A judge will want to see details of your arrangement beyond establishing custody. The visitation and parenting plan should include the child's daily or weekly schedules and explain how you will handle parenting time during summers, holidays, school breaks, and other special events. In addition, the arrangement should describe any visitation plans, such as where the child should be dropped off and picked up after visits. Describe ways in which noncustodial parent will make support payments, such as through the court's registry. Make sure that this plan is actually agreeable to both parties, because once a judge issues an order it can only be amended by going back to court.

4. Use positive language.

In writing your own custody and support agreement, you should use language that reflects your willingness to cooperate with the other parent. The tone should be positive and indicate that both parties are willing to comply with the terms of the document. If written this way, a judge is more likely to approve its terms.

If you and your ex-spouse can come to mutually agreed upon terms for your child custody and support agreement, the process tends to go more smoothly for everyone involved. Writing one on your own has many benefits, such as saving you time and money.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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