When Kentucky couples decide to get a divorce, they can often resolve custody disputes before heading to court. Reaching an agreement regarding custody can happen informally between the two parents or their attorneys. If this does not work, there are alternative methods for reaching an agreement, such as mediation. Ultimately, the goal is to create a parenting agreement that's in the best interest of the children.
A parenting agreement is a written agreement that finalizes the details of a custody decision. Although parenting agreements can vary widely depending on the child's needs and the parents' circumstances, there are certain elements they all should contain. For example, an agreement outlines where a child will live and when the other parent gets visitation. It also determines who gets to be involved in making decisions about the child's schooling, after-school activities and healthcare. Further, the agreement may even address whether or not grandparents, extended family members and new significant others can have contact with the child.
Before a parenting agreement becomes final, it must be signed by a judge. This is usually done during an informal hearing. The judge may ask both parents if the agreement was signed voluntarily and if they both understand the conditions put forth by it.
Even after a parenting agreement is finalized, child custody disputes can still arise. If one parent violates the agreement, a family law attorney may assist the other parent with returning to court and asking the judge to enforce the agreement. If enforcing the agreement does not work and the other parent still continues to violate the conditions, a lawyer may represent the parent and file for a child custody modification. In some cases, the parent may even ask for sole custody if the other parent refuses to resolve the problems.