The Importance of a Child Custody Agreement

Veteran Fairfax Family Law Attorney Claudia Zucker Discusses Child Custody Agreements

Not all breakups and divorces are contentious and emotional. Oftentimes, the parties meet with their attorneys, divide their assets, and amicably part ways. Even when children are involved, the parents can often come to a mutually agreed upon child custody-visitation-support arrangement. However, if there's one thing that my years of experience as a family law attorney in Fairfax, VA has shown me, it's that absent a documented, court-approved plan, even the most peaceful shared parenting arrangement can develop into a bitter custody battle.

The Argument for Attorney-Reviewed Documentation

When two parents can agree on the child's needs and they respect each others perspectives, they are often able to come to an arrangement with regard to custody, visitation, and child support. They may not see the need to involve the services of family law attorneys or the Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (which, among other things, oversees matters of custody, visitation, and support). For instance, both parents may agree that the mother will have full custody of the child and the father will take him or her to his home in Alexandria every other weekend. The father will pay $500 per month to the mother for support. But what if circumstances change? What if the father decides to skip a few child support payments to get caught up on other bills? Or the mother decides that she would like to take the child on holiday during one of the father's scheduled weekends? Without a court order, either of these things could occur, and the aggrieved parent would have no recourse without a binding agreement or court order. Furthermore, without a formal child custody agreement, either party could keep the child and refuse visitation. A parent could even move the child away from Fairfax-or out of the Commonwealth of Virginia-without the other parent's permission.

Benefits of a Fully Executed Child Custody Agreement

A child custody agreement drafted by an attorney and approved via the courts accomplishes a number of things, including:

  • Defining the roles and schedules of both parents
  • Allowing both parties to enforce their parental rights through the appropriate jurisdiction and court
  • Providing a parent who is receiving support with the security of knowing that it will arrive consistently and by providing them a mechanism to enforce payments
  • Guaranteeing visitation rights for the non-custodial parent
  • Requiring the custodial parent to remain within a specific geographic distance
  • Designating one of the parents to make decisions about the child with regard to things like education, healthcare, and religion.

It's important to note that either parent may seek a modification of an existing child custody agreement. This would have to be negotiated by the parents' family law attorneys and approved through the courts.

If you are a parent without a child custody agreement in Fairfax or anywhere else in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you should contact a reputable family law attorney immediately.

Virginia Divorce and Family Law Attorney Claudia Zucker

Do you need a divorce attorney? Do you have questions about the importance of a child custody agreement in Virginia? We invite you to contact us today at (703) 596-1005. We're always just a phone call away.

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