Many child custody cases nowadays are handled diplomatically. The parents agree on all or most of the issues and therefore do not go through lengthy (and costly) court battles. The other reward for this is a healthier relationship with the children since they do not have to witness their parents constantly battle over every little issue that arises. It is an unhappy statistic, but a lot of sexual relationships do not last, regardless whether a couple has children.
One of the greatest examples of diplomatic resolutions is those couples who intelligently draft parenting agreements and get court orders ratifying the agreements BEFORE they split up. This is especially wise for couples with children who have not yet married. If the relationship does fail, then the Father has no rights to the children until he establishes paternity and acquires a custody order through court. Often, this means getting a paternity test, which of course, costs money. If the couple waits until they are angry at each other to finally get custody orders in place, then that potentially means the issues may not get resolved without a lengthy, costly court battle.
Married couples can benefit from a proactive approach as well. Divorce is much more costly than drafting a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that anticipates child custody. Although a court may not later be bound to follow the agreement, the agreement will be a persuasive document outlining the intent of the parties. All the issues that are fought over in a divorce may have the couple angry and bitter towards each other for many years. This means that the child custody portion of the divorce could potentially be a volatile battle resulting in a trial. There is no “winning” in Family Court though. The children always lose in a big drawn out battle. An agreement prepared while the couple is still happy should be kept along with other important documents, including birth certificates, immunization records, wills, and, trusts.
Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements need not necessarily anticipate a divorce. No one that is happily married wants to go to their spouse and say, “We need a postnuptial agreement because statistically we may get divorced.” There are other good reasons for a postnuptial agreement besides divorce. Outlining the intent of the parties in a document when both parties are of rational mind can assist in numerous ways should one spouse lose rationality for whatever reason, including accidental brain trauma, drug addiction, insanity, etc. A postnuptial agreement may serve as the parties’ intent for the children when that party can no longer formulate intent due to brain damage. Thus, a postnuptial agreement, will, trust, and other related documents are drafted out of love, primarily—not out of an anticipation of a hateful separation.
So be proactive! Get custody orders put in place whether or not you THINK you may never split up with your significant other. You make plans for your children’s future anyway right? These plans should be among those you make because there really is no telling what the future holds. If you make these plans while both of you are happy with each other than that is the ONLY way to ensure you will actually do what is in the best interest of your children. This proactive approach will save you time and money if something should happen. Couples who ARE able to do this show a great deal of promise in their relationship, it shows each other that you are willing to work things out and shows the great love you have for your children.
Copyright: October 26, 2010
By: Anthony M. Wright, Esq (attorney)