Decisions about child custody can be one of the most stressful parts of a divorce. It can be scary to think about lawyers arguing in court about who gets the children at what times. However, the truth is that child custody doesn’t have to be an adversarial process. In most states, including Texas, it’s possible for parents to come up with a custody agreement as collaborators.
The how of custody agreements
If a divorce is amicable, the couple can work together to come up with a custody agreement. This plan needs to include detailed information about the way parents expect to share their children. This means outlining where the children will be during school day, weekends and holidays. In Texas, the custody agreement becomes effective under the law if a judge includes it in a court order.
It’s a good idea to work with a lawyer, mediator or arbitrator when writing a custody agreement. Laypeople don’t always understand what the court will be looking for. Lawyers and other professionals who regularly deal with family law know which details really need to be addressed in custody agreements.
Custody agreements should be very clear
Laying out specifics in a custody agreement can make a big difference in how effective it is. It’s a good idea to specify the time of day when parents will drop the children off and pick them up. It’s also prudent to set a standard for handling temporary changes to the agreement.
For example, requiring a day’s notice to cancel or request a special accommodation ensures that everyone’s time will be respected. A lawyer may be able to suggest other considerations that ought to be addressed in a custody agreement. Working issues out together can reduce money and stress compared to a traditional adversarial process.