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Creating and enforcing a parenting agreement

When you are working through a divorce or separation from the other parent of your child, you are tasked with the responsibility of creating a parenting agreement that serves the best interests of your child. It is almost always best to find ways to create this parenting plan between the two of you as parents without relying on courts to make parenting decisions for you.

Reaching a parenting agreement encompasses all the foreseeable elements of raising the child at the heart of the negotiation. It is important to remember that some rights, like support payments and visitation privileges, are as much the child's right as they are the parent's. The agreement will necessarily dictate where the child will live, what the visitation schedule will be and where it can take place, as well how life decisions like schooling, religious choices and medical decisions will be made. It should also address where holidays and vacations will be spent and how the child will stay in contact with important parties like friends and grandparents.

Once you have crafted an acceptable agreement, you will want to have it approved by court to convert it from an informal agreement to a court order. This is an important step, because it provides specific steps that can be taken if either party challenges the agreement later on, or simply refuses to abide by it. Once it is converted to a court order, the agreement can then be enforced by a court if it is violated. This gives the party who is being violated legal tools for pursuing justice.

Parenting a child with a former partner can be a draining, frustrating experience, but it doesn't have to be. With proper legal guidance from qualified legal counsel, the process that might otherwise be disastrous can remain respectful, keeping the best interests and rights of the child at the center of the negotiations.

Source: Findlaw.com, "The Parenting Agreement," accessed Oct. 11, 2016

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