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Navigating the divorce process can understandably feel like an emotional roller coaster. However, this is especially true if you share minor children and you both want to continue to play active roles in their lives.

Fortunately, as far as child custody is concerned in California, the majority of parents can resolve these cases outside of court. How? By putting together a well-thought-out parenting agreement in informal negotiation or divorce mediation sessions, for instance. Here is a glimpse at what drafting this type of agreement involves in the Golden State.

Parenting agreement: the basics

Perhaps you and the other parent can find common ground in the area of child custody during discussions outside of court. In this situation, once you arrive at mutually satisfactory decisions, you can finalize them in your own parenting agreement. You could also describe this agreement as a custody or settlement agreement.

Your parenting agreement can highlight which parent will have physical custody, as your children will live with either you or the other party. In addition, you can spell out who will have legal custody, meaning who will have the right to make critical decisions concerning your children’s upbringing. Other items you can include in your agreement are your visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent, as well as how you will handle birthdays, vacations, major holidays, time with the grandparents and time with friends.

Getting your agreement approved

After you have created a customized parenting agreement that both you and the other parent approve of, you must seek the approval of the court in Texas. This involves submitting your agreement to the judge and then having him or her review it. Afterward, you must take part in a hearing, where both of you will answer the judge’s questions about your agreement.

During this informal hearing, the judge’s objective is to verify that you and your future ex negotiated your agreement in a just manner. If the agreement seems to favor one party over the other, the judge may not approve it. Also, the judge will make sure that you both understand your agreement’s terms. Most importantly, though, the judge will ascertain that the contract is in the children’s best interests. If the judge is happy with the answers you provide, your agreement will receive the court’s approval.