As you and your spouse embark on your divorce journey, you cannot help but to feel apprehensive about how your children will handle it. After all, as emotionally difficult as the marital breakup process may be for you and your spouse, it is just as difficult for the children to navigate.

However, many cases involving child custody in Minnesota resolve before ever heading to family law court. You can accomplish this by working with your soon-to-be ex-spouse to produce a mutually satisfactory parenting agreement.

What are parenting agreements?

This type of agreement is a document that you and your spouse can produce if you are able to resolve your visitation and custody issues through negotiation. The parenting agreement, which you could also call a settlement agreement or custody agreement, essentially finalizes your decisions.

Parenting agreements typically include information regarding the following:

  • Who has physical custody of your children (Where will your child live?)
  • Who has legal custody of your children (Who can make big decisions concerning your children’s upbringing?)
  • How will you handle contact between your children and grandparents or friends of the family?
  • Who will get to see the children on certain birthdays and major holidays, as well as during vacations?
  • How will you address disputes about your agreement?

The great thing about a parenting agreement is that you and your future ex-spouse can easily customize your agreement in a number of ways to suit your needs as well as those of your children.

The court must approve your parenting agreement

After you and your future ex have put together a parenting agreement, you can submit it to your family law judge for approval. Afterward, you may have to attend an informal hearing where you answer a few factual questions that the judge poses. For instance, the judge may ask whether both of you understand the agreement and have signed it voluntarily. If your responses please the judge, you can be confident that he or she will approve your agreement.

What if your ex-spouse fails to follow the agreement?

If your spouse does not uphold the terms of the parenting agreement, you have the right to request that the family law court enforce it so as to resolve this matter. For instance, perhaps your ex-spouse keeps dropping the children back off late after his or her weekend with them. Whether you are working on putting together an agreement or enforcing an existing one, it is within your rights to pursue your best interests while most importantly keeping in mind what is in the best interests of your children.