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The basics of a parenting agreement in a child custody case

Most child custody cases in Florida are resolved even before they arrive in court. This might be due to informal negotiations between the involved parties -- and their attorneys -- or via a different dispute resolution process, such as mediation. What follows is a brief discussion on parenting agreements, as well as court approval in cases concerning child custody.

A parenting agreement must generally include a few key areas regarding the children. This would include physical custody -- where the child will actually live -- a visitation schedule, as well as the people who will be responsible for big decisions that pertain to the upbringing of the child and his or her welfare -- also known as legal custody. Additionally, it must be decided with whom he or she is to spend major holidays, as well as birthdays and vacations. While these are just a few of the most important and common issues upon which a couple splitting up must decide, agreements may be customized in a number of ways so as to best address a child's specific needs.

After the parenting agreement has been drafted, next comes the judge's approval, and it is he or she who makes the final approval. If the proposed custody agreement is included in the parents' divorce, the agreement will be filed in a court located in the county in which the divorce petition was received. Sometimes an informal court hearing may then occur, during which the judge may ask basic factual questions of the two individuals. Provided the judge is satisfied that the parenting agreement was fairly negotiated and was created with the child's best interests in mind, the agreement will most likely receive court approval.

Sometimes, even after a parenting agreement is approved by a court in Florida, it is violated by a parent. For example, if part of the agreement is continuously violated by a parent who repeatedly fails to bring back the child on time after his or her weekend visits, the other parent might decide to seek the court's help in enforcing the child custody agreement. When this is the case, a parent typically consults an experienced divorce attorney for guidance.

Source: Findlaw, "The Parenting Agreement", Accessed on 11/30/15

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