Establishing and clarifying the rights of parents regarding the legal and physical custody of a child can be achieved through the use of a court order, which can be obtained by consent or through protracted litigation, depending on the level of the parties' commitment to co-parenting. The custody order can then be used to enforce the rights and obligations of each party with regard to what is in the best interest of the child. Establishing a legal basis for each party's custodial rights creates a more stable environment for the child's parent-child relationships and provides a legal framework for resolving disputes about what is in the best interest of the child. Custody orders can be modified by a court of competent jurisdiction.
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These agreements establish a written record of a couple's intentions about parenting their children and provide guidance for the decision-makers should a dispute arise. A co-parenting agreement spells out the parenting arrangement should the couple's relationship end, including custody, visitation, child support and college tuition. The agreement can also be used by the courts to establish a relationship between a non-legal parent and a child, in order to provide the child with the most consistent level of care. Co-parenting agreements can be modified with the consent of both parties.
Agreeing on co-parenting can be immensely helpful for all kinds of families, including LGBTQ+ families. The agreements can maintain a collaborative family unit, even at a time when the parents are separating or divorcing. Ultimately, a co-parenting agreement benefits the children most. It serves as a way for the mothers and/or fathers to document how they will behave, and that it is in the children's best interest, during a split. If you need help or guidance on a co-parenting agreement, contact a family law attorney to discuss your options.