Custody Stipulations and Agreements
Parties in a custody matter need not have their custody matter heard by the Court if they are able to come to an agreement. Whether they are at the beginning of the process—even prior to ever filing a custody complaint or a petition to modify an existing agreement—or they have a hearing or a custody trial scheduled, parties may choose to resolve custody disputes by agreement.
A custody stipulation or agreement is an agreement reached by the parties regarding custody of their child(ren). These agreements can be as detailed, or as lacking in detail, as the parties choose. Parties typically specify the custody schedule, holiday and vacation schedule, locations for custody exchanges, transportation, and relocation procedures in their agreements. Parties may also include provisions regarding drug and alcohol usage, communication between the parties and the child(ren), counseling, travel, extra-curricular activities, and many other issues.
When parties are able to come to an agreement, signing a custody agreement can ensure that all of the issues the parties are concerned about are included in their agreement. Typically, the Court will use standardized language and certain standard provisions in custody Orders, and parties don’t have the same level of input in the Court’s Order as they do when they are able to craft their own agreement.
Custody stipulations or agreements can be incorporated into an Order, which in turn will be signed by the Court. Once the agreement has been incorporated into an Order and signed by the Court, it is just as binding on the parties as an Order that the Court wrote itself. This means that if one of the parties breaks the Order, the other party or parties will have recourse in Court, including filing for contempt or sanctions as appropriate.
If you are interested in learning more about custody stipulations or agreements, please contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.