You and your spouse have determined that getting a divorce will be in your best interests. You simply don’t see eye to eye on matters like money, and you realize that parting ways is your only option. But what about the two children you share together? What happens to them?
One of the most challenging parts of the divorce process when you have young children is figuring out how to handle child custody. Fortunately, this process does not necessarily have to be acrimonious in Maryland. Instead, you and the other parent can work together to create a parenting plan that will work well for the entire family in the years ahead.
A rundown on parenting agreements
If you and the other parent are able to negotiate and thus resolve your visitation and child custody issues outside of court, then you will finalize your decisions in writing in the form of a parenting plan. Your parenting plan should ideally cover key areas impacting your children following divorce. These areas include the following:
- Physical custody (where your children will live)
- What your visitation schedule will be
- Legal custody (who will make major decisions concerning your children’s upbringing)
- Where your children will spend birthdays and holidays
- How you will handle vacations
- How you will handle contact with third parties, such as friends or grandparents
You can also lay out in your parenting agreement how you and the other party will handle any changes to the agreement that may be necessary in the future. Also, how will you both handle disputes concerning the parenting plan that may crop up at a later date? An attorney can help you to sort out these issues so that your agreement reflects both your and your children’s best interests.
Receiving the approval of the court
After you and the other parent have finalized your decisions in a parenting plan, you must submit your plan to the court. A judge will review your plan to determine if it is fair, meaning that it does not favor your future ex-spouse over you, and vice versa.
In addition, the judge will want to make sure that neither you nor your future ex felt coerced into signing the agreement. If the judge feels that your agreement meets the above standards, he or she will most likely approve of it.