It is critical for parents to include necessary custody provisions in their custody agreement or parenting plan. Custody stipulations (also known as provisions) are principles and rules that parents must follow when raising their children.
Parents can include provisions in their agreement or parenting plan to ensure that both parents follow certain conditions and standards when the child is in the care of that parent.
Parents should include requirements in their parenting plan for anything they want the other parent to do. The parenting plan information becomes the custody order, a legal document. Both parents are legally required to follow the custody order, and failure to do so can result in contempt of court.
Thus, having something specified in the custody order is the only way to ensure the parent will do it — and the only way to punish the parent if the parent does not. As a result, parents should consider what standards and rules they want to be included in the agreement.
Sample Child Custody Agreement
A. The husband, ___________ (the “father” or a “party”), and the wife, _________ (the “mother” or a “Party”, referred to collectively with the Father as the “parties” or “parents”) were married on _______ in the state of ________ and
B. There is one (1) child born of the marriage, ____________, born on _________(referred to individually by first name or a “child); and
C. On or about________, the father commenced as action for divorce and related relief in the Supreme Court of the State of ______, County of ________, entitled __________v. ___________ which action is now pending (the “Action:); and
D. After due and considered deliberation, the parents wish to enter into this custody and parenting Agreement (the “parenting Agreement”) pursuant to which they settle and resolve all issues between them regarding the decision-making for and access time with the Children; and
E. Unless otherwise set forth herein, the terms of this Parenting Agreement will be effective as of __________(the “Effective Date”); and
F. The Parties have been fully, separately, and independently advised of their legal rights, remedies, privileges and obligations arising out of their marriage, relationship or otherwise, by counsel of their own choice and selection; and
G. The parties have had explained to them by their independent legal counsel the provisions of law affecting their rights, and make this parenting agreement in full and complete satisfaction of all claims with respect to interim custody that each may have against the other under any law; and
H. The parties intend that this parenting agreement shall be governed by the pertinent provisions of the Domestic Relations Law of the state of ________, as amended, (which shall hereafter be referred to as the “DRL” ), including, but not limited to, DRL $ 236 (B) (3); and
I. The parties are entering into this parenting agreement of their own free will, and without force, coercion or duress of whatever nature and are not under any medication or drug which has impaired their ability to fully comprehend this stipulation and agreement, its contents, and its consequences; and
J. The parties fully understand the terms, covenants and conditions of this stipulation and agreement, and are of the belief that this parenting agreement is fair, just, adequate and reasonable as to each of them and is in the best interests of the children, and after due consideration, careful review, and the consideration of its contents and advice of their attorneys, they freely and voluntarily accept and agree to be bound by the terms, conditions, and provisions set forth herein; and
K. The parties wish to enter into this agreement, which will be incorporated by not merged into a subsequent judgment of divorce, and which will be incorporated by not merged into a subsequent judgment of divorce, and which will survive as a separate contract.
Now, Therefore, in consideration of the mutual promises and agreements contained herein, the parties agree as follows:
THE PARENTING COORDINATOR AND THE
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH COORDINATOR
1. A. The parties are presently working with and intend to continue to utilize the services of ___________, (“_________”), who shall serve as “parenting coordinator” to assist them, among other things, with the implementation of this Parenting Agreement and the resolution of issues that may arise related to the children, including, but not limited to parenting time the mother’s substance abuse treatment with ________(“________”). ________ shall consult with _______, who shall continue in her role as _______’s treating therapist and serve as the “Mental Health Coordinator” for both children.
B. _________ shall assist _________ in identifying the developmental and psychological needs of the Children as well as treatment options, where necessary and/or appropriate.
C. In the event either _________ or ________ is no longer willing or able to serve as the Parenting Coordinator or Mental Health Coordinator, as the case may be, then ________ will make three recommendations for alternate parenting coordination or mental health coordinator to be appointed. Each parent shall have the opportunity to consult with the individual selected by ________ and try to reach a consensus. If the parents are not able to reach a consensus ________ shall select a parenting coordinator and his determination shall be binding on the parties subject to their right to seek relief from the court. If _________is unable to perform this service, will make a recommendation of three individuals to substituted for _________. Each parent will make the opportunity to consult with the individual selected by _______ and will then meet with the parents and assist them in making a final selection for the replacement of ________.
2. The father shall have legal custody of the Children subject to the Mother maintaining her sobriety and abiding by the terms of this parenting Agreement for a period of eighteen (18) consecutive months from _________, at which time the parties shall share joint legal custody, as set forth in paragraphs 5 through 11 unless contraindicated by _______ and ________. To that end, the parties will work together cooperatively with _______ and _________, at their directive, to devise a structure for the implementation of joint custody as set forth in paragraphs 5 through 11. Nothing in this paragraph is intended to preclude either party from seeking judicial intervention if he/she disagrees with the structure for the implementation of joint legal custody, subject to article III, paragraph 13 (F0 below).
3. If the mother suffers a relapse prior to the implementation of joint legal custody as provided in paragraph 2 of this Article II. Then joint legal custody will not be implemented for eighteen (18) months from the date of the mother’s relapse provided the mother maintains her sobriety and abides by the terms of this parenting Agreement.
4. If the mother suffers a relapse after the implementation of joint legal custody as provided in paragraph 2 of this Article II, then the father will immediately have sole legal custody of the children. Joint legal custody will not be implemented again pursuant to the terms of paragraphs 5 through 11, until the Mother maintains her sobriety and abides by the terms of this parenting agreement for a period of nine (9) months.
5. Joint Legal Custody/Decision Making. Subject to the terms of paragraphs 2 through 4 of this Article II, upon the implementation of joint legal custody the parties shall jointly decide all major issues relating to the children, including, but not limited to, medical issues, non-routine medical treatment, non-routine dental and orthodontic treatment, psychiatric and psychological treatment, including, without limitation, any change of therapist and any change in the frequency with which a Child sees a therapist; educational issues (including, but not limited to, choice of school, and colleges); participation in after- school and extracurricular activities; participation in summer camp or similar summer activities; and religious issues, religious education and non-routine activities (the “Consulting Topics”).
6. The parties shall meaningfully consult with each other regarding any major decision for a Child, and shall endeavor in good faith in order to reach a consensus regarding such decision.
7. The parties will each provide the other with a designated email address with a major provider (i.e., Yahoo, AOL, MAC, G-mail, etc.) for the purpose of communicating regarding issues relating to the children and in particular with respect to consulting topics. When either party believes that a consulting topic has arisen, he or she will notify the other in writing to the designated email account of the details of the consulting topic and how he/she believes it should be resolved (the “Topic Notice”). The topic notice will be deemed to have been received by the party to whom it is sent on the date to the Topic Notice was sent provided there is reasonable evidence that the Topic Notice was on the email (the “Notice Date”). Within five (5) days of the Notice Date (or sooner, if by its nature a more expedited response to the issue is needed), the recipient will notify the sender by responding to the sender’s designated email account of how he/she believes the consulting topic should be resolved ( the “Topic Response”). Within five (5) days of the topic response (or sooner, if by its nature a more expedited response to the issue is needed), the sender of the Topic Notice will reply to the topic with a “Topic Reply.” The topic Response and topic replay will each be deemed to have been received by the original sender on the date the topic response or topic replay was sent provided there is reasonable evidence that same was received on the designated email account. The formal process set out above is not intended to suggest that the parties should not attempt, whenever possible, to resolve issues between themselves directly, whether face to face, over the telephone, or otherwise.
8. The parties will share with one another all information, reports and data they shall each have as the subject of any Topic Notice and shall cooperate with one another to develop and share all their information and other information as may be available, and the party receiving the topic notice shall have full access to any and all professional persons, institution, teachers and service providers whose input will be helpful in making a decision in the best interest of the children.
9. The parents mutually agree to meet with the parenting coordinator to resolve any dispute.
10. If the parents cannot agree with respect to a major decision on behalf of a child after consultation with the parenting coordinator they will accept and implement the recommendation of the parent coordinator, provided that the parenting coordinator’s recommendation is consistent with one parent’s position. Until further order of the court or agreement between the parties, the fees, if any, charged by the parenting coordinator in connection with resolving the major decision shall be paid by the husband. The foregoing cost-sharing allocation shall not be construed as proof or indicator of either Party’s ability to pay and shall not be used in any action or proceeding for evidentiary purpose or otherwise. Each parent reserves his/her right to make an application to a court of proper jurisdiction regarding a major decision on behalf of a child; all recommendations and/or advice obtained may be submitted to the court proceeding commenced pursuant to this paragraph.
11. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, if the circumstances are such that they prevent advance notice or consultation, each party shall have the right to make decisions related to emergency medical treatment for a child when the children (or the child, as the case may be) are under his/her care at that time and shall immediately notify the other party of the emergency and treatment. In all situations where advance notice or consultation can reasonably be made, the parent with the children (or the child, as the case may be) shall contact the other parent before decisions related to emergency medical treatment are made.
12. A. Physical custody of the children. The father shall have physical custody of the children, subject to the provisions of this Article III.
B. Mother’s Access Periods.
(i) The mother shall have parenting time and access with the Children pursuant to an access schedule to be implemented and structured by ______ and ______, taking into consideration the Children’s best interests (the “Mother’s Access Periods”)
ii) Until further determination by ______, with consultation with _______, the Mother’s Access Periods with the Children shall be supervised at all times by the Children’s nanny, _______, or ________, the Children’s prior nanny (_____’s mother) (the “Nanny”).
(iii) In the event of the unavailability of the Nanny, by reason of her termination, resignation, death, disability, illness, or otherwise, until such time as a replacement Nanny has been selected, the Mother’s Access Periods shall be supervised by an agreed-upon third-party adult (“Supervisor”).
(iv) The Mother’s Access Periods shall take place at such locations as ______ and ________ agree are in the best interests of the Children.
(v) Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, modified pursuant to a Court order or as determined by the Parenting Coordinator, the Mother’s weekly Access Periods with the children will be as follows:
a) _____ from until ______; additionally, the Mother will have access time on these days to walk each Child to their respective school with the Father in the morning.
b) _______ from ______; and
c) The Mother will also have parenting time with _____ on _______ commencing at _____, the end of _____’s school, until the Mother picks up _______ at _______ at the conclusion of ______’s school.
(vi) Additional Access Periods (i.e., holiday, vacation) and expansion of the Mother’s parenting time, including overnight parenting time, shall be as determined by _______, with consultation with ________ and ________.
(vii) The Mother’s Access Periods required compliance with ______’s monitoring protocol, annexed as Exhibit A. In the absence of such compliance, the Mother shall not have access and parenting time with the Children.
C. Miscellaneous Provisions Relating to the Children
(i) Each Party shall be entitled to complete detailed information from any physician, dentist, or medical specialist attending the Children for any reason whatsoever to be furnished with copies of any reports or records given by any of them to the Parties. This shall not include patient records maintained on behalf of either Child by any treating mental health professional.
(ii) Neither Party will directly or indirectly influence a Child so as to prejudice him/her against the other Party. Each Party will endeavor to guide a Child so as to promote the affectionate relationship between a Child and the Father and a Child and the Mother. Every reasonable effort will be exerted to try to create a positive relationship between a Child and each Party. Neither Party will do anything that might estrange the other from a Child or injure the opinion of a Child as to the other Party or that might hamper the free and natural development of the love of a Child for the other Party.
(iii) Neither Party shall discuss the terms of this Parenting Agreement with the Children or show this Parenting Agreement to the Children.
13. The Mother’s Sobriety and Mental Well-Being.
A. As is more fully set forth in the protocol set forth on Exhibit A, the Mother will continue outpatient treatment for alcohol and substance abuse as recommended by ______.
B. ______ shall work with the professionals treating the Mother for her alcohol and substance abuse to determine the most appropriate method(s) to monitor the Mother’s ongoing progress and treatment. The current plan for monitoring the Mother’s sobriety is annexed as Exhibit A, and made part of and incorporated herein.
C. The Mother represents and warrants that she is currently sober and that she shall continue to take all steps necessary to maintain her sobriety and mental well-being.
D. The Mother’s access to the Children shall be conditional on (I) her participation in and completion of a drug rehabilitation program in accordance with the terms of paragraph 4(A); (ii) maintaining her sobriety; and (iii) abiding by methods devised by _____ for monitoring the Mother, as set forth in Paragraph B and Exhibit A.
E. If the Mother suffers a relapse subsequent to the date of this Parenting Agreement, which is confirmed by _______ fails to abide by the method of monitoring established in accordance with the terms of Exhibit A, does not participate in the drug rehabilitation program or is otherwise incapable of acting in the Children’s best interests, the Mother shall have no access to the Children until a further determination by _______ and ________, and the schedule set forth herein shall be otherwise modified in accordance with recommendations of ______ and _______.
F. If either Party disagrees with any of the recommendations of the Parenting Coordinator and/or Mental Health Coordinator, he/she may make an application to Court and the Parenting Coordinator and Mental Health Coordinator shall not be precluded from submitting an affidavit to the Court. In such event, there shall be no change in the status quo until agreement by the parties or court order.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION
14. The Mother agrees to seek psychiatric treatment and substance abuse treatment based on the recommendation of ______, ________, and ________. The Mother agrees that she will not take medications, which are psychoactive unless agreed to by her treating psychiatrist, _____, _____, and ______. ______ will be notified of all prescribed medications and will monitor the Mother’s medication. ______ will have access to all physicians who prescribe medications to the Mother and pharmacy records.
15. The Mother acknowledges that she is not under the care of _______. Further, the Mother agrees that she will not seek nor take medication prescribed by _______ or any of her associates at any time.
16. The Mother is required to provide _______ with forms permitting him to discuss her condition with any mental health provider, or other treating physicians whom the Mother consults with. In addition, the Mother is responsible to inform_______ of any modification in medications that are psychoactive in nature. _______ shall have access to all pharmacy records to monitor prescriptions and related issues.
17._______ shall have the opportunity to provide information to the Mother’s treatment providers, and obtain information from them regarding her mental health or substance abuse treatment. ______ is authorized to share information obtained with ________ and _______ to coordinate mental health treatment for the children.
18._______ will have periodic conferences, to the extent he feels it is necessary, with each Party, counsel for the Mother and/or counsel the Father to provide data based upon information available regarding the Mother’s mental health status, substance-abuse issues, and treatment conditions. In addition, as _______ will have had the opportunity to review all medical records from all medical facilities providing treatment to the Mother, he will discuss the summary of findings related to mental health and substance abuse issues. _______ will also provide his own independent assessment of the quality of evaluations that have been conducted, and will be conducted, regarding the Mother’s mental health and substance abuse status.
19. The parents agree that any information obtained by _______ (e.g. records) will not be available to counsel unless there is litigation pertaining to the custody of the children, in which event, the parties may seek approval by the Court to obtain copies of the Mother’s medical records from ______.
20._______ has the responsibility to make appropriate recommendations for modifications of treatment and monitoring, dependent on information he obtains during the course of his ongoing assessments of the Mother’s mental health and substance abuse status.
ADVICE OF COUNSEL
21. Each Parent has sought and obtained independent legal advice from counsel of her/his own selection in connection with the negotiation and drafting of this Parenting Agreement. The Father has been represented by _____________________. The Wife has been represented by __________________.
22. Each Parent represents and acknowledges that he/she has been informed by his/her counsel of his/her legal rights and obligations with respect to this Parenting Agreement and the subject matter hereof, that he/she has carefully read this Parenting Agreement and understands its provisions, and that all of his/her questions pertaining to the provisions of this Parenting Agreement have been fully and satisfactorily answered.
BASIC FAIRNESS; VOLUNTARY EXECUTION
23. This Parenting Agreement is entire and complete and embodies all undertakings and agreements between the Parents. No representations, agreements, promises, undertakings, or warranties of any kind or nature have been made to the other to induce the making of this Parenting Agreement, except as is expressly set forth in this Parenting Agreement, and neither Parent will assert to the contrary that there is any other agreement, oral or written, existing between them.
24. Each Parent represents and acknowledges that he/she is entering into this Parenting Agreement freely and voluntarily.
25. Each Parent represents and acknowledges that he/she believes the terms of this Parenting Agreement to be fair and reasonable and that the terms of this Parenting Agreement are in the best interests of the Children.
26. Each Parent represents and acknowledges that this Parenting Agreement is not the result of any fraud, duress, coercion, pressure, or undue influence exercised by either Parent upon the other or by any other person or persons upon either.