Once you decide to divorce, it's important to do whatever you can to maintain stability for your children. It's not always easy, especially if you're not getting along with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, but you don't want to do anything that could have a negative impact on your children.
Most people are able to work through their differences in mediation, eventually negotiating on the terms and conditions of a parenting agreement.
As you tackle this task, here are some questions to address:
- What are the types of things to include in a parenting agreement? There is no right or wrong answer, but most divorcing parents touch on: physical custody, visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent, legal custody, visits with extended family and how to make future changes to the agreement.
- Does a parenting agreement require court approval? Even though both parents negotiate the terms of the parenting agreement, the court must give final approval. It's not always required, but you may have to attend an informal hearing to answer some basic questions and prove that you understand what you're agreeing to.
- Is it possible for someone to violate a court-approved parenting agreement? Even though it can lead to trouble, your ex-spouse may not follow the terms of the parenting agreement for some reason. For example, they may neglect to follow the visitation schedule as outlined, which makes it difficult for you to be a good parent. If this happens, the person violating the parenting agreement may face legal consequences.
The most important thing to remember is that you're making decisions that will impact your children for many years to come. You don't have to agree on every point, but you must be willing to negotiate with the goal of creating a mutually beneficial agreement.
Once your divorce is in the past, follow the terms of your parenting agreement as closely as possible. If you need to make a change, discuss it with your ex-spouse. You should never take matters into your own hands.
If your ex-spouse continually violates the parenting agreement after divorce, talk to them about what's happening and then learn more about your legal rights. You don't want to ruin the relationship with your children because your ex is unwilling to follow the parenting agreement as agreed upon.