Imagine that you are going through the divorce process and have concerns about child custody, child support and how you’ll raise your child in the future.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ease your worries. You will initially need to learn more about the mediation process, including what to expect during negotiations associated with the parenting agreement.

As the name suggests, a parenting agreement outlines a variety of issues associated with how you’ll raise your child after your divorce is final.

While no two parenting agreements are identical, here are some of the many details that are often included:

  • Which parent has physical custody
  • Which parent has legal custody (sometimes it’s both)
  • An easy-to-follow visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent
  • Language detailing with which the child will spend specific holidays, birthdays, vacation, and other important events
  • A system for contact with extended family members

While the above details are important, you may also want to include additional information on how to handle disputes and deviations from the parenting plan in the future. You can’t expect everything to always go as planned, so make sure you have a system in place for handling any disputes and changes.

Once you and your ex-spouse agree on all the details, the mediator will present it to the court for final approval from a family law judge. As long as it’s deemed fair to both individuals and has the child’s best interests at its core, the judge will sign off and the agreement will go into effect.

It’s important to remember that a parenting agreement is legally binding, so both parents need to follow through with what’s laid out in the plan.

If for any reason the other parent continues to break the agreement, you may need to take action. Start by asking him or her why it was necessary to deviate from the agreement, as there may be a good reason for the alterations.

If that doesn’t work, you should learn more about your legal rights. You may have to return to court to modify a nonworking agreement or to pursue contempt of court charges against the noncompliant parent. This isn’t something you want to do, but since it’s in the best interest of your child you shouldn’t hesitate to take immediate action.