Perhaps the most stressful part of any divorce is custody and parenting time. Parents want to know what they can expect when it comes to creating a parenting plan. Fortunately, Parents in North Carolina have significant latitude when it comes to creating an agreement that meets their needs. Mediation and parenting time negotiations are critical to arriving at an agreement that represents the best interests of the children.
Parents may arrive at a parenting time agreement either by agreement or by trial. A parent has a right to have their case heard before the court. The judge or referee can listen to all of the evidence and create a ruling.
However, in most cases, the parents create custody and parenting time orders themselves outside of court. When parents agree, the court enters their parenting plan as a court order. The order has the same force and effect as an order issued by the judge.
One of the benefits of creating a negotiated custody agreement is the flexibility that it gives parents. A custody agreement may be very specific, or it may be generic. Every child is different. The circumstances of every parent are unique. Some circumstances call for very detailed parenting agreements to cover topics like travel for child exchanges, supervision of parenting time, special needs or extracurricular activities. Other situations require more generic terms with flexibility.
When parents negotiate an agreement, they are able to work on details. If the court makes a decision for the parents, the court may or may not create an order that fully addresses the needs of the children and the wishes of the parents. By settling custody matters outside of court, parents can be sure to address the issues that are most important to them.
Even when parents have a strained relationship, skilled negotiation can help parents arrive at an appropriate agreement. With the assistance of a trained mediator, the parties may conduct a settlement negotiation in a skilled and deliberate manner. While mediation is not appropriate in all cases, it can be a useful tool to reach an appropriate custody and parenting plan.