A Co-parenting agreement is a written document setting out a parents intentions for a child they are raising together, whilst living apart from each other. The documents sets out the important issues that will arise once the child is born and as it grows up.
You can make up the agreement between yourselves, with the help of templates from the internet. Or, you can go to an attorney. Discuss in-depth as much as you can, but remember that in the future situations may change, so it is important to be flexible.
The laws from State to State are all different. Co-parenting agreements will be looked at by the courts in the event of problems arising between you in the future, but they aren’t necessarily binding – the courts will always do what is best for the child. However, they do show that parents have recognized their responsibilities.
There are hundreds of things you can put in agreement, but to help you narrow it down to the basics have a look at the following, which should give you some idea of what a co-parenting agreement should contain:
The main Care-Giver
Who will be the main care giver and where will the child live? How much time will the non- resident parent get to spend with the child? What happens if a co-parent moves out of State? Can these conditions change in the future? (For example if the child goes to a college nearer to the home of the non-resident co-parent).
How much time will each parent spend with the child, will it be limited to weekends, or will there be mid-week visits? Will the child be seen solely in the care-givers home whilst the child is small, or will the child share two homes from the outset?
Are you both agreed on the type of education you want your child to have? Will one parent pay schools fees if necessary, or will they be divided equally? Who will pick up and collect the child from school, will you share this? Will you both attend parents evenings together? Will you both attend any other meetings that might be called, or will that be left to the main care-giver?
Do you agree on the child’s religious up- bringing? Will you both attend any religious services which include your child? Will you respect the child’s religion if it is different to your own?
Will you both be responsible for choosing childcare or a nursery place for your child? How will the costs of child care be divided?
Will you want the principal care-giver to inform you about any emergencies, no matter how small? Will you be able to attend hospital appointments together? Will you make joint decisions on healthcare matters?
Do you intend for one parent to be responsible for all finances and split the amount spent equally between you, or will one parent take care of education and health, whilst the other deals with clothes and books? How will you divide your finances and keep of record of each-others spending?
Will you split the holiday time between you? Will you take a holiday together as a family? Who will be responsible for child care during holidays or sickness?
Visits away from home
Will the child be allowed to go out of state to visit grand-parents for instance or take a holiday? If one co-parent moves out of state, will visits still be possible?
How will the child communicate with the non-resident parent? Will they be allowed the use of a cell phone or a computer to use email or Skype services?
As you can see there is plenty to think about. Write down your ideas as they come to you and be prepared to adapt the agreement as the child gets older. Try not to be too rigid, flexibility is a good thing. Between you an agreement should be a big help.