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Child Custody Mutual Agreements

Updated November 21, 2016

When parties separate or get divorced, custody of the minor children is often a major issue. Most states award primary custody to one parent and secondary custody to the other. The parent with secondary custody has limited visitation, unless the parties agree on a more equal division of time. Typical court-ordered visitation allows for every other weekend, one day during the week (after school) and rotating holidays.

Significance

Creating your own child custody mutual agreement is always in the best interest of the minor children. Both parties are able to work the custody agreement, including visitation, around their schedules instead of having the court dictate when they can see their children.

Function

The child custody mutual agreement is a written document that could be presented in court, should one of the parents decide to unilaterally change the agreement. Often separated or divorced parents start out agreeing on many things, especially child custody, but later one of the parents might decide that she is going to withhold visitation from the other parent. The child custody agreement shows the court that the parties had an agreement, which gives credibility to the "injured" party.

Features

Child custody agreements have several features. If one of the parties is known to abuse various substances, a clause should be written into the agreement to provide for an alternate supervised visitation, should he revert to his old ways. Other types of stipulations could be included in the agreement, such as extended vacation agreements, whether the parties are allowed to take the minor children out of state or out of the country and ramifications should one of the parents not return the minor children to the other parent.

Misconceptions

Many people believe that the court must order a strict visitation schedule. If the parties can work out an agreement regarding child custody, and that agreement is in the best interests of the minor children, the court accepts and ratifies the parties' agreement.

Benefits

A child custody agreement allows the parents to set the visitation schedule according to their schedule--this often allows more time with each parent than the court-ordered schedule offers. The parties might even agree that custody is rotating: one or two weeks with one parent, then one or two weeks with the other parent. If the parents live in the same school district, this type of schedule is the most beneficial to the minor children, as they have equal time with both parents, rather than limited visitation with the secondary residential parent.

Other benefits include certain deviations from the schedule. If one parent wishes to keep the minor children for a longer period of time, these planned absences from the other parent can easily be incorporated into a mutual agreement. "Make-up time" is provided for within the schedule, rather than scheduling make-up time on the fly, which could affect other scheduled events the parents might have. This makes it easier for the parents to plan events throughout the year.

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About the Author

Cayden Conor has been writing since 1996. She has been published on several websites and in the winter 1996 issue of "QECE." Conor specializes in home and garden, dogs, legal, automotive and business subjects, with years of hands-on experience in these areas. She has an Associate of Science (paralegal) from Manchester Community College and studied computer science, criminology and education at University of Tampa.