Avoid These Mistakes with Pennsylvania Child Custody Agreements
Child custody can be a hotly disputed issue in divorce, and the issue does come up in connection with other family law cases when the parents were not married. However, many parents are able to overlook the differences between them to work out a parenting plan and agreement for custody. Through this agreement, you may cover the two types under Pennsylvania’s child custody statute: Legal custody for decision-making, and physical custody for time spent with the child.
Even when you do get along, creating a parenting plan can be challenging. Many parents are able to agree on some of the basics, but you could make critical mistakes with an important, legally binding document. It is wise to get assistance from a Lehighton child custody attorney with drafting, reviewing, and negotiating an agreement. Legal guidance helps you avoid the following mistakes:
Terms are too vague. You might agree on a typical schedule of splitting weekends and visits during the week, but your parenting plan needs to be more detailed. You should include specifics on:
- What time weekends begin and end;
- Where the child spends time on holidays, birthdays, school breaks, and summer vacation;
- How parents handle out-of-town travel; and,
- Transportation responsibilities.
Too much detail is unworkable. On the other hand, an agreement for child custody may be too specific to the point where the parents wind up in court frequently with disputes. The plan does not allow for flexibility with decision-making and parenting time, which is essential for busy lifestyles.
There is no provision for disputes. You can be sure that co-parents will disagree at some point. It is smart to include terms on what to do to smooth over disputes, without running to court for every conflict. Your child custody agreement should require both parties to participate in mediation or informal negotiations first.
The agreement does not allow the right of first refusal. There may be occasions where a co-parent who has parenting time cannot be present to take care of the child. In such a case, other arrangements will have to be made. A right of first refusal clause requires the unavailable parent to request child care from the other co-parent, instead of going to a babysitter.
You did not cover online activities. It may seem trivial, but part of raising the child is making decisions on how much time they spend online and what they do. In a parenting plan, you should provide for restrictions on activities and time limitations. Consistency and enforcement between your households is important, so make sure the rules are the same no matter where the child spends the night.
Trust a Pennsylvania Child Custody Lawyer to Guide You
When co-parents have a well-developed agreement for child custody, there are fewer trips to court for enforcement, modifications, and disputes. For more information on the benefits of compromising on a parenting plan, please contact the Law Office of Kim M. Gillen, P.C. We can schedule a consultation at our offices in Lehighton, PA. After reviewing your situation, a child custody attorney will advise you.