As a parent, there is nothing as important to you as the welfare of your child. As you consider the best way to move forward with a custody agreement, make sure that you are considering both the long-term and short-term consequences of anything you come up with. Keep reading to get some advice on the factors that should be considered. Then reach out to Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 to speak to an experienced family law attorney.
You have three main parenting options
First, it is important to understand what your parenting options are. There are three choices, beginning with sole decision making by one parent. Another option is joint decision making between both parents but primary custody with one parent. Finally, the third option is for the child(ren) to live in both homes and for both parents to make decisions about their lives and welfare.
Make sure to consider all visitation and access issues
If you are not thinking of the long-term situation then you may only think of visitation and custody today but the truth is that there are many other things to think about. Yes, you should start by determining who will have the kids on the weekdays and weekends but what happens during holidays and long weekends? What about school breaks and summer vacation?
Do you want birthdays taken into consideration? For example, who gets the kids on their birthday, and do you have a provision to have your child on your own birthday? What about other special occasions? What is the process in place for a notice of change? If there are expenses incurred in missed time with the kids, who pays them? These are just some of the things that should be considered and ironed out within the custody agreement.
Consider potential geographic restrictions
If you and your co-parent both live in the same state and city today then you will likely have an easier time coming up with a custody agreement compared to co-parents who live out of state. That said, do not assume that you will always live in the same state. You should have rules in place for what to do if one parent needs to move out of the city, state, or even country. There should also be provisions for potential foreign travel.
Spell out who has access to records
If one parent is going to be the primary caregiver and the other will only have occasional visitation, then it is possible that the caregiving parent will not want the other parent to have access to records. This may include school records, medical records, and similar. Your custody agreement can spell out what they have access to. If you do decide to prevent them from having access then make sure you let the doctor, school, etc. know that the child’s other parent does not have a legal right to these documents.