The issue of child custody is a primary concern for most parents seeking a divorce. A custody agreement aims to emphasize an arrangement between the parents that will keep the best interest of the child a priority. In Florida, a family court judge will indicate the parameters regarding physical custody, visitation and decision-making on the child’s behalf.
In order to promote consistency in a child’s routine, most parenting agreements indicate which parent will have physical custody. Physical custody refers to the residential arrangements for the child. The custodial parent will be responsible for meeting the child’s daily needs. In the event that joint custody is granted, both parents will be expected to consult with one another in accordance with the terms of the custody agreement when handling important decisions involving the child, such as educational or medical issues, regardless of which parent was granted physical custody. When one parent has sole custody, on the other hand, the custodial parent may not be obligated to include the non-custodial parent in these decisions.
Once physical custody is established, the agreement usually outlines the details of the non-custodial parent’s right to visitation with the child. In a traditional situation, the non-custodial parent will be entitled to time with the child pursuant to a schedule that may include certain weekends as well as predetermined holidays, vacation times or other special events. The right to participate in decisions regarding the child’s welfare remains intact no matter which parent is physically with the child unless specifically indicated that a certain circumstance does not require a joint decision.
Establishing a parenting agreement can allow parents to fully understand their legal obligations and rights. A lawyer can assist a client in the negotiation of an agreement that can be approved by the court.