Going through the divorce process is a challenge, especially if you have at least one child with the other parent. As you focus on the steps you can take to improve your situation in the future, you also need to think about the well-being of your child and the best way to raise him or her.

Child custody issues have a way of moving to the forefront of divorces. But having custody battles as a focus can make things worse on both parents and kids.

Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with child custody issues, and creating a workable parenting agreement is at the top of the list.

Through mediation, you and your soon to be ex-spouse can discuss the finer details of the parenting agreement,with the idea of reaching accord sooner rather than later.

What to include in your parenting agreement

There are many things you should think about including in a parenting agreement, including:

  • Which parent will have physical custody, as this is where the child will live most of the time
  • Which parent will have legal custody, or if this is something both parents will share
  • A visitation schedule that allows the non-custodial parent to spend quality time with the child
  • Details governing contact with other family members, such as step-siblings and grandparents
  • How the child will spend major life events, ranging from birthdays to holidays to vacations

Once you work through these details, you may also want to hash out a plan for dealing with disputes and any necessary changes in the future. You hope that your parenting agreement remains a viable option for years to come, but it's actually likely that it will need to be modified later as the kids get older and have more commitments of their own, e.g., participation in extracurricular activities, sports teams and working part-time jobs.

After you agree to the details of your parenting agreement, it is sent to the court for final approval. From there, both parents are expected to live up to their end of the agreement.

If for any reason the other parent is neglecting to follow through, you should learn more about your legal rights, as you may need to take legal action to avoid complications in the future.

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