Having a family is the ultimate goal for many people. Unfortunately, not every couple lives happily ever after — and in many cases, the children you share might become the central point of tension during your divorce.
Although you and your ex may both want the best for your kids, you may have different ideas of what that entails. And because parents understandably want to spend as much time as possible with their children, it’s essential to establish details like custody, visitation, and financial support right away to avoid problems down the line. Let’s take a closer look at what custody agreements typically include and the role that child custody lawyers play in drafting them.
What Is a Custody Agreement?
A custody agreement, sometimes known as a parenting plan, is a physical document that outlines the details of physical and legal custody of children shared by co-parents. This agreement pertains to how parents will provide for the well-being of their children and includes issues like living arrangements, parental visits, and decisions about healthcare and education. Parenting plans can also address issues like vacations and holidays as they pertain to custody and visitation.
There are typically three different types of child custody agreements in New Jersey, though every case is different. In this agreement, you’ll often establish whether parents will have joint legal custody or shared legal and physical custody. With joint legal custody, one parent serves as the primary residential guardian while both parents make decisions about their children together. In a shared legal and physical custody arrangement, parents might divide time and living arrangements equally. Another option is to grant sole legal and physical custody to only one parent. This is typically utilized when one parent is deemed unfit or absent, though it can also be a voluntary designation.
Is a Lawyer Required to Write Up a Custody Agreement?
Nothing in the law prevents people from representing themselves and crafting their own agreements. However, failing to address necessary issues in your custody agreement early on can lead to problems later. If you and your former spouse can’t agree on how to establish legal and physical custody, you may not be able to draft an arrangement on your own.
When Should You Consult a Child Custody Lawyer?
In many amicable divorces, both parents may actually agree on how custody should be resolved. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t still need help from a skilled family law attorney. Even if you and your former spouse reach a consensus on how parenting time should be divided, you may still need help determining the terms of joint custody, the details of your parenting plan, or how financial support should be calculated. Working with a lawyer adept at handling child custody can ensure that you and your children are protected and that important details aren’t overlooked.
Of course, in more contentious divorces, it may be necessary to work with child custody lawyers from the start. If your former partner intends to file for sole custody or plans to relocate, it’s especially important to have a lawyer’s assistance in drafting a fair and legal custody arrangement. Having an experienced lawyer by your side will ensure you have someone fighting for your parental rights and the best interests of your children, especially if the case ends up going to court.
Drafting a custody arrangement is the best way to protect the best interests of everyone involved in your divorce case. In many instances, it’s best to have help from a qualified child custody attorney to ensure an optimal outcome. For more information on how we can assist you in your child custody case, please contact Segalas Law Firm today.