Think Divorce is stressful? If you have children those stressors don’t end. Imagine the hopeful simplicity of finally having a parenting agreement. However, those agreements make sure you have plenty to worry about even after the ink on the paper is dry. Below is a paraphrased version of a normal parenting agreement. Whatever the “custody” language, both parents still have full informational access rights and sharing obligations. Look for how often the words “notice, consult, agree, provide, confirm, advise, and communicate ” appear. Depending on the level of animosity that remains between parents, those obligations can be used by either parent as a sword and a shield. A violation of any one of the highlighted notice provisions could cost more in money, court time, and anxiety.
Standard Parenting Agreement Outline – significant communication and notice obligations
RESIDENCE – Both parties shall keep the other informed as to the exact place where each of them resides. OUT OF STATE TRAVEL – Parents may temporarily take the child to another state for vacation or for other good reason with reasonable notice to the other parent. RELOCATION – A parent intending relocation, with the child, must provide 60 days notice before the relocation. MEDICAL PROVIDERS – Each parent shall have access to the child’s health care providers and medical records, and will provide the other with the names, addresses, telephone numbers. HEALTH INSURANCE – They will exchange possible plans to compare costs and benefits. HEALTH NETWORK – Parents shall consult and agree to utilize a provider within the insurance plan network. MEDICAL BILLS – Assure bills are promptly submitted to insurance and pay the expense portion directly to the medical provider and provide the other parent with proof of payment. PRESCRIPTIONS – Each parent shall provide prescribed medication and instructions for care at the time of the transfer, and with sufficient information to allow the parent assuming such possession to continue any such instructions for care or refills. LIFE INSURANCE – Each will maintain a life insurance policy naming child as beneficiary and provide yearly confirmation of the continuation of the policy. SCHOOL DISTRICT – Should neither parent reside in that district an agreement must be reached as to a new district or non-agreement will trigger the mediation provisions. SCHOOL RECORDS – When the children are sent home with notes from school personnel each parent has a duty to timely provide these materials to the other parent. PRIVATE SCHOOL – The child shall only attend private school if both parents agree as to the choice of school and allocation of responsibility for payment of expenses. HOMEWORK and TESTS – Both parties will make sure that, during their Parenting Time during the school year, the minor child’s homework is completed in an appropriate and timely manner. TUTORING – Parent agrees to pay one-half of the cost so long as it is needed. Parent shall be provided tutoring progress reports. HOMESCHOOL – Parents will continue to discuss the continuation of homeschooling as well as public school. Parents are entitled to any reports, homework, or progress reports incident to homeschooling. RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL – Parents will exchange work and travel schedules and have the right of first refusal to provide child care during the other parent’s parenting time, unless an emergency. If parent intends to use substitute care provider parent must first offer the other an opportunity to care for child. RELIGION – Parents will consult regarding religious training and provide notice of upcoming events regardless of parenting time. This includes notice to the other regarding any religious milestones, baptismals, christening, or similar ceremonies. EXTRA CURRICULAR – If parents agree on an activity will share the cost and transportation equally. If enrolled without prior approval of the other parent, the enrolling parent will pay the costs and facilitate the transportation. SPORTS – Advise the other names of coaches, instructors, or contact information for sponsoring entity. The parents shall exchange or be provided notifications regarding games, practices, lessons, and activities. TRAVEL ATHLETICS – The parties intend to continue participation in travel athletics and games which can occur on any weekend and be significant distances away. They will have to provide notice of, practices, games, travel plans and coordination. MILITARY CONTACT – Parent shall post pictures of child every week and make accessible professional images to purchase prints. Military Parent shall post own pictures and other parent shall placed photos in child’s room. MILITARY LEAVE – Parent shall advise of leave requests, grants, and timing to give other as much notice as possible. Consideration shall be given regarding previously scheduled plans. PARENT TRAVELING TO AREA – Parent may be traveling back to the area for visits with family or holidays. Parent will advise prior to those trips to arrange parenting time. CHILD SUPPORT – Within 30 days of parent’s return to work, shall submit pay amount. The new amount shall be retroactive to the date employed. BONUS – Supporting parent shall pay a percent of employment income bonuses in addition to child support. Paystubs with a bonus shall be provided to make the calculation. ECONOMIC SUPPORT – Expenses greater than $200.00 will require the consent of both parents. The parent incurring the expense shall forward the receipt. DEPENDENT EXEMPTION – If either parent would not recognize a financial benefit from claiming the child as a dependent in their designated year, that parent shall advise the other to give the opportunity to claim so an economic benefit is realized. CANCELLATION – 48 hour notice shall be given by the parent entitled to parenting time with the minor child if it will not be exercised. TRANSPORTATION DISTANCE – If parent increased distance residence more than 10 miles away from other, the parent moving shall provide transportation to within ten (10) miles of the non-moving parent. TRANSPORTATION OBJECTION – Any third party transporter shall not be arbitrarily refused the ability to provide transportation without reasonable cause by the parent objecting. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTANCE – Based on the distance between the parties parent has the option to exercise weekend parenting time but shall give twenty-one days notice. WEEKDAY – Work schedules and commitments of the parents prevent weekday defined times. Parents will work reasonably to coordinate weekday parenting time which includes at least one overnight. YOUNG CHILD – The parents shall follow the above schedule after the child is obligated to attend public school. The parents will communicate and exchange schedules. BIRTHDAY – The Father shall have the child in even numbered years from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and in odd number years from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The parents may coordinate a birthday event such that both see the child at that event. SUMMER – Defined as when the child is not required to attend public school during the traditional summer months May-August. Each parent shall have 3 weeks, a week is defined as five days which the parents shall add to the beginning or end of their regular weekend. SUMMER NOTICE – In even numbers years, Father shall advise Mother of summer parenting time by March 10 of each year and Mother shall advise Father of her summer time by March 20, reverse in odd years. FOURTH OF JULY – The “4th of July” is on the night of a fireworks display from 3 p.m. overnight until 9:00 a.m. Parents may coordinate different nights with different displays in the same year. HALLOWEEN – The parents shall alternate such that each will have the child for trick-or-treat night every other year. CHRISTMAS – Parents shall review school schedule and if an even number of days over the Christmas break, each will have an equal number of days with the exchange at 6:00 p.m. on the last day of the first half of the break, rotated yearly. WINTER WEATHER – If the weather is conducive to parenting time in January then Parent will have the three day weekend of Martin Luther King Day, if the weather is not conducive, then the three day weekend of President’s Day in February. Parents will have to discuss weather conditions. REMARRIAGE – Each will make known to that new spouse the terms of this agreement to act in accordance with the obligations and expectations of this agreement. MEDIATION – If any disagreements arise, the complaining parent shall notify of the nature of the complaint, and both parents shall make reasonable attempts to negotiate a settlement. COMMUNICATION – Ourchildinfo.com is the preferred method of communication between the parents and each shall give the other his/her e-mail address.
This author has developed www.OurChildInfo.com as a tool for parents to use after a divorce to address the stressors inherent in any parenting agreement.