Which party attains the legal and physical custody of a child?
The term custody can be divided into two parts:
a. Legal custody;
b. Physical custody.
Legal custody refers to when a parent and/or guardian has the rights to make decisions pertaining the life of the child in question, whilst physical custody means to have the right towards the physical presence of the child.
This matter should be thoroughly discussed and addressed in a custody agreement. The role of each parent towards the child should be clearly spelled out in order to avoid any confusion that may arise at a later date.
A proper planned visitation schedule should be properly designed.
The custody agreement should clearly lay down the visitation schedule, including information regarding the child’s staying arrangements for the holidays and weekends. This would be beneficial to both, the parents and the child, as both parties will be able to plan their schedules and make adjustments to tailor towards the pre-planned schedule.
In addition to that, this also gives the child a sense of assurance that, despite the fact that both parents do not live under the same roof any longer, the child still has the presence of both parents in his or her life, and is not alienated by either parent.
Which parent bears the burden of making choices for the child?
As a child grows up, there are many important decisions that the parents would be required to address and deal with. This is a preliminary factor to deal with in a custodial agreement, in order to avoid the possible crop up of any future hostile occurrences or confusion of any sort. Some of the important points to address would include, but not limited to the following:
Where will the child study and who will cover the child’s tuition fees and other expenses relating to his or her education such as writing material, extra tutorial costs, etc.;
Religion This is especially an issue when both parents are not of the same religion and/or do not practice the same customary path of faith. The parents will have to come to a consensus as to which religion and path of faith the child will be brought up in;
If the custodial agreement states that the child will be living with one parent throughout the school term and will be spending the holidays with the other parent, an agreement has to be reached between both parents on whether the child is allowed to go overseas for holidays, and if yes, whether prior to taking the child out of the jurisdiction, consent is necessary to be attained by the other parent. This is extremely important as many parents have a fear of child abduction.
Whether or not an insurance plan (this would include medical insurance, education insurance, etc.) will be taken for the child and if yes, who will bear the expenses of the monthly payment for this.
As the world is changing and factors vary on a day to day basis, it is more often than not that a custodial agreement is never perfect and one that covers every issue that may crop up. Thus, it will be good to decide how issues pertaining to the child that are not covered by the divorce agreement will be dealt with in the future. This would avoid unnecessary arguments and bickering between both parents and it would avoid putting the child in an unending limbo, should such a situation arise.