If you find yourself in the middle of a child custody dispute, it’s important to understand your legal rights. Along with this, you need to realize that compromise will be necessary if you want to settle all your differences in a timely manner.

While there are times when a child custody case goes to court, this doesn’t have to happen. Instead, you can opt for informal negotiations, such as mediation, to ensure that every issue is worked through in the appropriate manner.

In many cases, a parenting agreement is the best way to solve a child custody dispute. This doesn’t mean you’ll get exactly what you want, but it does put you in position to negotiate with your ex-spouse to ensure the best situation for your children.

Here are some of the many things you can include in a parenting agreement:

  • Which parent will have legal custody of the child (you may decide that it’s best to share this responsibility)
  • Where the child will live
  • A reasonable visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent
  • A schedule outlining where the child will spend major life events, such as birthdays, holidays and vacations
  • A plan for contact with extended family members, like grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins

If you really want to make the most of your parenting agreement, include language on how to deal with changes and disputes in the future.

Even if the original agreement seems to suit everyone’s needs, your situation will likely change over time as your child ages. A system for dealing with these changes will ensure that both individuals know their roles and how to proceed.

Once a parenting agreement is in place, the mediator can then submit it to a family law court for final approval. There is no guarantee the judge will sign off on it, but as long as the agreement is fair to all parties, there’s a good chance this will happen.

A parenting agreement is legally binding in court, meaning that both parents need to stick to the obligations outlined in its terms.

As you get started with mediation regarding child custody, focus on the benefits of creating a parenting agreement. It may be what’s best for both you and your child.