There are many steps you can take to prevent future child custody disputes, starting with the creation of a comprehensive parenting agreement. With this in place, both parents have a clear idea of what's expected of them and the steps they can take to provide their children with as much stability as possible.
While no two divorcing couples will create the exact same type of parenting agreement, there are five things you need to include:
- The parent who will have physical custody (this is who the children will live with)
- The parent who will have legal custody to make decisions regarding medical care, religion and education among other details (this is often shared between both parents)
- A visitation schedule for the parent without physical custody
- A schedule detailing where the children will spend vacations, holidays and other major events
- A plan for contact with extended family members, such as grandparents, uncles and aunts
When your parenting agreement includes these five things, there won't be much, if any, gray area regarding where things stand and your rights.
You can also include provisions regarding how to handle future changes and disputes. For example, as your children age, they may not be able to adhere to the same visitation schedule. It's comforting to have a plan in place for negotiating changes down the road.
If your ex-spouse continually violates the court-approved parenting agreement, discuss this with them in an attempt to find a solution. If this doesn't work, you may have no choice but to take legal action to protect your rights as a parent.