September 24, 2020 | Custody and Parenting

What To Include In A Custody Agreement?

Nothing is impossible, as long as it is not against public order. Put your differences aside and be creative and come to a solution that is in your children’s best interest.

If you are separated or divorced but have worked out a custody arrangement with your ex-partner, you will want to prepare a custody agreement (we recommend having your lawyer draft one). So, the question is, what should you include in a custody agreement?

Based on your particular situation and what both parties have agreed to, your custody agreement will outline whether you prefer shared custody, sole custody, access rights etc.

It is important when considering the best custody arrangement that you consider your children and the scenario in which they would thrive the most. It is a challenging time for all family members, and it is critical to troubleshoot how to maximize time with the other parent in consideration of everyone’s schedules, role and involvement with the children prior to the separation.

As challenging and emotional as a divorce is, as parents you have to always put the best interest of your children first.

If you want to choose a 50/50 shared custody situation, you can stipulate a few different options such as:

· One week/one week

· 2-2-5-5: your child lives 2 days with one parent, then 2 days with the other parent, followed by 5 days with the first parent, and 5 days with the second parent, giving both parents weekend time

· 3-4-4-3: your child stays with one parent for 3 days of the week, then the other parent for 4 days. The next week it switches, so the first parent has the child for 4 days and the other parent has him or her for 3

· 2-2-3: your child lives with one parent for 2 days of the week, spends the next 2 days with the other parent, and then returns to the first parent for 3. The next week it switches.

Also Read: Shared Custody: Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Another option is a 60/40 child custody schedule which has the child spend 60 percent of their time with one parent and 40 percent of their time with the other parent. The two most common 60/40 schedules are the every extended weekend schedule and the 4-3 schedule.

The every extended weekend residential schedule has your child spend weekdays with one parent and a long weekend with the other parent. The 4-3 custody schedule is very similar to the every extended weekend schedule. One parent has the child for 4 nights of the week, and the other parent has the child for 3. The most significant difference is that not all 3 nights fall during the weekend.

Other options include a 70/30 schedule or an 80/20 schedule, which obviously would not be a shared custody scenario.

Custody agreements should explain access rights as well. Access is the right of a parent who does not have custody to spend time with his or her children, which may include visits of several hours, days, a week, or longer. The more detail you can provide in the custody agreement about access, the better.

Custody agreements should also stipulate long distance schedules, for example, if one parent lives out of town, the child lives with one parent and visits the other. The frequency of the visits will depend on the child’s age and needs as well as what works for the parents.

Custody agreements should also stipulate for holiday schedules as well as summer break schedules. For example, even if one parents has sole custody of the child, the other parent might get Christmas vacation, easter break and thanksgiving weekend with the child.

Below is a helpful link for parents to contemplate different custody schedules in order to see what will work best for your family:

There is also the option of nesting. This is an arrangement that we offer to our clients who are concerned at first with their child/ren having to pack up a bag and keep moving back and forth from one parent to the other. This is a transitional arrangement, where one parent will move out of the house during the other parent’s custodial time and vice versa. This cannot last forever; however, it does provide the opportunity for the child/ren to adjust to the separation and adapt to being with one parent at a time, while at least being in the home that they know. This arrangement can act as a starting point.

The most ideal scenario is for both parents to make the decision together as to what arrangement would be in their children’s best interest. However, if that is not possible, the court will decide based on what it deems would be in the child/rens best interest. In the event that the Court must make the decision of having to choose between the parents in the event of a scheduling conflict, relocation of one parent to another city, province or country,  the Court will favor the parent that has demonstrated during trial that they will facilitate and provide maximum contact to the other parent whenever possible. That means for example, respecting the custody schedule to a -T-, facilitating daily phone calls, ensuring that the child/ren remains in contact with the non-custodial parent’s family etc.

Your custody agreement must also outline include provisions on parental authority (decisions with respect to the health, education, religion etc.) It is also helpful to include a method for dispute resolution should conflict or problems arise in the future (for example, mediation).

The general strategy for a custody agreement is to dot ever I and cross every T. Make sure that everything is clear and that there are no unanswered questions. This will benefit parents but will also provide your children with the structure and routine that they need and deserve.

For any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact the best custody lawyers in Montreal!