Determining Custody

Sometimes parents will not agree on who has custody of a child and therefore will have to rely on the courts to arrive at this decision. Custody decisions are made by agreement or through contested hearing.

Custody Agreements – A custody agreement will state if parents receive joint custody or sole custody of a child. If parents fail to come to an agreement about their child’s custody, they will have to go through mediation to resolve this issue.

Mediation – Mediation which is a non-adversarial process, brings both parties together to attempt to come to an agreement. A third party will sit in and help to identify the interests of both parties. Mediators will try to help the parents put their differences aside and help them focus on their child’s wellbeing. In some states, mediation is mandated by the court before a contested hearing can follow.

Parenting agreement – Parenting agreements are created by some jurisdictions to provide a clear plan for both parents. The agreement will include areas such as:

The general custody and living arrangements

Times and dates when each parent will have the child

Holiday time and how it is divided

Financial support

Guidelines on parental relocation and travel with the child

Guidelines on the child’s education, medical needs, extracurricular activities and religion

A parenting agreement can be drawn out as the mediation process commences as this process will help both parties discuss what they expect from the agreement.