Pennsylvania couples who are divorcing and who have young children will need to put together a parenting agreement that address child custody and visitation as well as other aspects of parenting. Issues included in the parenting agreement may include what kind of contact the child will have with relatives and other third parties, how the child will spend holidays and how to handle conflicts. Parents may also include more detailed information in the agreement.
Parents might negotiate the agreement between themselves with the help of their respective attorneys. If they are struggling to reach an agreement, they might turn to mediation in order to resolve conflict. If parents include in the agreement how they will handle changed circumstances that could make an alteration in the agreement necessary, they might not need to go to court each time they need to make those changes.
The agreement can then be written down and presented to the court for approval. This approval makes the agreement legally binding. This can protect both parents and children because it provides legal recourse if one parent does not hold up their end of the agreement. For example, if one parent is consistently late in returning a child from visitation, the other parent can go to court in order to force the late parent to abide by the terms of the agreement.
There are also circumstances under which parents may simply find it necessary to turn to litigation and have a judge make decisions about custody and visitation. It may be that one parent simply will not cooperate with the other. There may have been domestic violence or drug and alcohol abuse. A parent might be worried about a domestic or international abduction. Parents in these situations might want to discuss with their attorneys how they can best protect themselves and their child.