Items You Must Include in Your Child Custody Arrangement
Every child custody agreement will have its own unique elements. But in general, there are certain items you will absolutely want to include in your own agreement. Here are a few of those most essential elements:
- Custody descriptors. You need to clearly outline who has both physical and legal custody of the children. Physical custody refers to who is the physical guardian, while legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make decisions on the child’s behalf. There are different arrangements. Sole custody gives one parent both legal and physical custody, while joint custody gives both parents a shared amount of legal and physical custody.
- Who makes certain decisions. If you want one parent to be in charge of specific decisions regarding the upbringing of the child, such as medical care, education, religion and extracurricular activities, it should be included in your custody agreement.
- How you’ll divide costs. Raising a child is expensive. Even when taking child support into account, both parents will likely need to split certain costs. You should have a clear outline of who is in charge for which expenses — or how much of a particular expense. For example, who pays for medication? Who pays for school costs? Which parent claims the child as a dependent on tax returns?
- When visitation will occur. If one parent has sole physical custody of the child, you should have a thorough, clear visitation schedule implemented in your child custody arrangement so there can be no debate later on about the non-custodial parent’s rights. This plan should address holidays, frequency of visitations and any other issues that could arise between you and your spouse.
- Future plans. You need to leave some room for flexibility to either amend the agreement down the road or to cover how you will address general issues not currently covered by your agreement.
For assistance in establishing an airtight child custody agreement, contact the experienced Long Island divorce attorneys at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates.