Having a legal separation agreement is a sound way to protect yourself during your separation.…
In North Carolina, a married couple must live separately for a full year before filing for divorce. During this time, there are no laws in place related to determining child custody, support, or how decisions related to the child are made. Without guidelines in place, miscommunication and misunderstandings are likely to occur, turning an amicable separation into a contentious battle.
Having a parental responsibility agreement in place can minimize these issues and make the separation much less stressful and difficult for both parents and children. To help you better understand how this parental agreement works, our child custody attorneys in Raleigh are sharing what they are, what's included, and the benefits of outlining parental responsibilities.
What Is a Parental Responsibility Agreement?
A parenting agreement is made between two parents to define their roles moving forward after separating. This can be made between two parents during their separation period prior to divorcing or between two unmarried parents who are splitting up. The focus of the agreement is designed to outline the parents' duties to the child instead of their rights over the child.
A parental responsibility agreement is a requirement in Great Britain to establish a father's role when two parents are unmarried. While it's not a legal requirement in North Carolina, it's becoming more common as a way to outline responsibilities without litigation and to ensure fairness between the two parties.
What Is Included in Parental Responsibilities?
This agreement should anticipate all issues related to co-parenting and should remove all the guesswork and potential for argument out of custody, decision-making, and financial arrangements. There are four specific sections you will want to include: physical custody, legal custody, financial arrangements, and parenting provisions.
This refers to where the child will be living, so it's important to include:
- Standard weekly custody schedule for both parents or a visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent
- Custody during vacations and school breaks
- Dividing holidays
- Transporting to and from parental exchanges (ie: who is driving the child from one home to the other or if there should be a meeting place arranged)
Legal custody refers to making important decisions on behalf of the child, and your agreement should include:
- Where the child will attend school
- Religious upbringing and instruction
- Medical decisions
This should include details related to which parent is responsible for paying for the child's upbringing. Consider including:
- Child support payments
- Providing health insurance
- Paying for daycare or child care
- Who pays for extracurricular activities and "extras"
This category should focus on general agreements on how to raise the child and parental behavior, such as:
- How to solve disputes between one another
- Disciplining the child
- Provide the other parent with information when traveling with the child
- Not speaking negatively about the other parent to or in front of the child
Do You Need a Parental Responsibility Agreement?
It's a very good idea for any couple who is separating or divorcing to have a parental responsibility agreement in place. Let's consider the benefits:
- Cuts down on confusion, misinformation, or miscommunication so both parents are on the same page
- Keeps co-parenting civil by reducing the potential for arguments
- Children understand what to expect related to their daily routines and thus, feel more secure and certain
Also, your parenting agreement can also act as the foundation for your child custody and support arrangement during the divorce. Submitting this to the judge for approval can save a significant amount of money and time that would normally be required for negotiating a support and custody arrangement.
Should I Draft a Parenting Agreement Myself?
When matters of child custody and child support are concerned, it's in your best interest to work with an experienced family law attorney. At Doyle Law Group, we can sit down with you and inform you of your rights as a parent and help you draft an agreement that is comprehensive and beneficial to both parties. This ensures that you and your co-parent are more likely to follow the agreement, because, unlike the custody and support rulings from a judge, the parenting responsibility agreement is not legally binding in the same way.
During this time, we can also assist you with a comprehensive separation agreement that outlines other matters related to divorce, including:
- Who will live in the family home
- Who is responsible for paying specific bills
- Property distribution and separation
Schedule a Consultation with a Family Law Attorney Today
If you would like to learn more about parenting and separation agreements, or need to secure experienced legal representation from an award-winning family law attorney, reach out to Doyle Law Group today to schedule a consultation.
To schedule a consultation, call us today at (919) 301-8843 or fill out the contact form below.
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