What is the child custody agreement and how the process plays out?

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

Not only a parent but even a close relative of a child might get child custody when the parents separate due to divorce. Since the stakes are so high, the process is always exceedingly difficult from an emotional perspective. Parents must take child custody decisions by keeping in mind the best interests of the child, which may or may not have relation to the wishes of the parents. This is the reason why the court must approve the custody arrangement of the child that the parents might work out among themselves. Having some understanding of the process should help you decide the best course of action in case you find yourself involved in a custody dispute.

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Informal custody arrangements

The process involves informal negotiations between the parents, with or without including a family lawyer from Strategic Lawyers Townsville. The agreement reached by the parties should be put into writing in the form of custody agreement of settlement agreement depending on the state laws. If the parents agree to the terms and the court finds it to the best interests of the child, the court will approve it.

Alternative dispute resolution

When confronted with a child custody dispute, another way to avoid going to the court is to use the method of Alternative Dispute Redressal or ADR, which includes collaborative family law, mediation, and arbitration. The process is advantageous as compared to courtroom settlement in that it is less adversarial, meaning that it does not generate much hatred and enmity between the parties. The compromising goal of ADR makes it imperative to look for a settlement by creating a win-win situation. However, to make the process of ADR work well, the parents must be willing to collaborate and reach a solution acceptable to all without any hard feelings.

Settling child custody cases through ADR calls for mediation and collaborative family law comes into play. Mediation allows the parties to discuss the case, propose a solution and then devise their plan in the presence of an attorney, which though is not mandatory.   Collaborative family law has many similarities with mediation. It differs from any other legal process in that it all happens out of court, and if there is any instigation that hints at court action, it results in dissolving the process.

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Parenting agreement

After resolving the disputes and differences in a child custody case and having compromised and agreed to some rules for custody that includes visitation, the parties sign a parenting agreement. The attorney will help in drafting the agreement with inputs to create the legal document without involving the court. The parenting agreement once drafted and signed by the parties, can be routed through the court that issues an order after a hearing. Most child custody hearings are informal, where the judge plays the role of a moderator.

The agreement says which parent has physical custody of the child and who has the legal custody. It also has schedules of visitations, and what will be the way to handle future changes to the agreement.