Child Custody Agreements

8Child Custody Agreements

When couples divorce, they have many issues that they need to resolve. When the spouses have children, there are additional concerns that involve caring for their children following their breakup. Both parents have rights and responsibilities regarding their kids. Parents must come to an agreement about where the children will reside and when and how visitation will take place. It is often best for parents to come to a custody agreement before they go to court.


Types of Custody Arrangements

There are several options for parents when they choose a child custody arrangement. First, it is helpful to understand the difference between legal and physical custody. Legal custody allows parents to make important decisions on behalf of their child, such as decisions about education, medical care, and religion. Both parents generally have legal custody of their children.


Physical custody refers to the place where the child will reside. Typically, a child resides primarily with one parent and spends time with the other parent. The non-custodial parent usually must pay child support and enjoys regular visitation with their children. Full custody is when one parent has complete custody of the child which is also called sole custody. Sole custody may be appropriate when one parent is unfit or unable to provide adequate or safe parenting of their child.


Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Can I keep my Kids from seeing the other parent?”


Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a critical document to include in a custody or divorce agreement. The parenting plan should be as detailed as possible. Include exactly when the child will spend time with the non-custodial parent. Outline specifics regarding holidays and vacations. Provide for how the child will be picked up for visits. The more details you can include, the better the plan. Remember that you and your former spouse will look to the plan to give direction if and when a dispute arises. It is also helpful to include instructions for how to handle disagreements in the future. The plan will become part of the court order as long as both parents and the judge agree.



Can We Modify a Custody Agreement?

Parents can modify a custody agreement under some circumstances. When a child custody agreement is in place, you can only change it through the court. You may file a motion for modification of custody or visitation order. A hearing will be set, at which time both parents will have the chance to provide their input. In some cases, the judge may order couples to go to mediation. A mediator is a professional who manages disputes between spouses or parents in order to come to a fair resolution. Keep in mind that the court will always do what is in the best interest of the child. The court will only approve a custody order or modification when they feel that it is best for the child.


What You Should Do if a Parent Breaks a Custody Agreement

Sometimes, a parent stops abiding by a court-ordered custody agreement. A parent may pick up or return the child at the incorrect times or may keep a child longer than they should. A custodial parent might refuse to allow the child to visit with the other parent. In these cases, it is best not to take matters into your own hands. Instead, seek legal guidance and go through the proper legal channels to resolve the matter. If the custody order isn’t working anymore, it may require a modification.


Child custody matters are among the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent. To seek legal guidance about custody, contact our team of lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to request a consultation.




The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.



parenting plan | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (

Child Custody | North Carolina Judicial Branch (


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