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Resolve child custody issues with a parenting agreement

The thought of going through the divorce process with your spouse may understandably be heartbreaking. However, even more heartbreaking may be the realization that your children may suffer negative impacts by the breakup of your marriage.

Fortunately, most cases involving child custody in Texas are resolved before they have to proceed to court. This is possible through informal negotiations or another alternative to traditional divorce litigation, such as mediation. During these processes, you and your future ex-spouse can work on putting together a parenting agreement that satisfies you both.

What are parenting agreements?

A parenting agreement, sometimes called a custody agreement, is a written document that reflects the wishes of both parties when it comes to such matters as visitation and child custody. These types of agreements generally cover the following key areas that affect a divorcing couple's children:

  • Who will have legal custody of the children (who makes important decisions regarding the welfare and upbringing of the children)
  • Who has physical custody of the children (who the children live with)
  • What the visitation schedule will be
  • The preferred way in which to handle changes in the parenting agreement or agreement-related disputes
  • With whom your children will spend vacations, major holidays and birthdays
  • The proper way in which to handle contact with third parties, such as grandparents and family friends

A parenting agreement is convenient in that you and your future ex-spouse can customize it in a number of ways to your and your children's unique needs.

What happens after you and your spouse create a parenting agreement?

After you and your spouse have negotiated a mutually beneficial agreement, you will submit it for a judge's approval. Then, the judge might ask you some basic questions during an informal hearing, such as whether both of you voluntarily signed the document. If the judge feels you both negotiated the agreement fairly and that it takes into consideration the children's best interests, you can expect your agreement to receive the judge's approval.

What takes place once the judge has approved the parenting agreement?

Both you and your spouse thereafter must stick to your now binding decree that dictates your custody-related obligations and rights. If your spouse fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, you have the right to proceed to court to enforce it and resolve the issue.

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