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Child custody agreements are those legal agreements regarding who will get legal and physical custody of the children after a divorce or extended period of separation. The parents are usually the ones most likely to be named in child custody agreements, though grandparents and other guardians may have the right to seek child custody under certain circumstances.
Child custody agreements involve both the legal and physical custody of the children involved in a divorce or separation. Legal custody refers to the parent who is given the right and responsibility of making the major decisions that will affect the child's life. Health care, education, travel, child care, religion, and decisions which affect the child's welfare are included under the duties and rights of legal custody. The physical custody portion of child custody agreements spells out whom the child will live with and spend their time with.
A family law judge may award one parent sole custody (full legal and physical custody) in child custody agreements or s/he may award joint custody. Joint child custody agreements spell out how legal and physical custody will be shared between the parents. With joint child custody agreements, one parent will typically have primary custody of the child (the custodial parent) and the other parent will have child visitation rights. Child custody agreements may also entail the non custodial parent's duty to provide child support payments to the custodial parent.
When parents are going through the divorce process, they have the right to develop child custody agreements independently or with the help of a professional mediator. A mediator is a privately hired or court appointed family law professional who facilitates open negotiations of child custody agreements between the parents without going to court. If the two parents can develop mutually acceptable child custody agreements, the court may honor this arrangement.
The court will only approve child custody agreements when they are made in the best interests of the children. Even if the parents can come to an agreement, the judge will have the final discretion over the approval of child custody agreements. If two parents are unable to agree to the terms of child custody agreements, the court will intercede to determine who will receive legal and physical custody of the children.
The court has the right to develop child custody agreements that meet the child's needs and best interests. If the court determines that joint custody is best for the child's welfare, the judge will implement a child visitation schedule spelling out child visitation rights for the non-custodial parent.
Child custody agreements are never permanent and can be changed by the courts for a number of reasons.
If you would like to learn more about child custody agreements, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced legal professional who can evaluate your case to determine how best to protect and maximize your legal interests.
More information on custody:
Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.
Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.