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Parenting Agreements

Many separating parents prefer to resolve their disputes over parenting arrangements outside of court by reaching parenting agreements. The intent is to keep the stress and disruption of separation at a minimum for the children’s sake.

What are the benefits of parenting agreements?

This approach provides parents with the freedom to make parenting arrangements that best suit their family. For example, they may not want to use the traditional legal terms of custody and access that some people feel are not appropriate to describe a parent-child relationship. Traditional legal language is not required and they may want to have an agreement that recognizes joint responsibility and commitment to care for the child.

What do parenting agreements cover?

Parenting agreements usually cover such matters as where the child is to live, how the parents will share the child’s time, and how decisions about the child will be made.

Can parenting agreements be changed?

Most agreements will also contain a provision that the parties can amend the agreement if an important change occurs. If they can’t agree on the amendment to the agreement, either party can apply to the court for an order. Some agreements state that as an alternative, the parties will go to mediation or arbitration to resolve the issue.

Who can help develop a parenting agreement?

A mediator, whether a lawyer, a social worker, or other professional, can help parents make their own agreement. When mediation is successful and parents agree on their arrangements, the mediator puts the parenting arrangements in writing and advises the parents to review it with their lawyers. The lawyers will then put the mediated parenting agreement into a formal agreement, usually as part of a complete separation agreement that settles all issues between the parents, or in a consent court order, or both. Lawyers can also help negotiate agreements if a mediator is not used.

Visit the Resolution section of this website for more information.