California residents may be able to settle child custody issues by creating a parenting agreement on their own. In some cases, an agreement will be reached after going through the mediation process. The details of the agreement are put in writing, and the terms are legally binding once they have been approved by a judge.
The exact terms of a parenting agreement can be as wide or narrow in scope as the parents want them to be. Ideally, they will spell out how and when the terms can be changed if necessary. It will also spell out when each parent has custody of the child and how to handle special events like birthdays or holidays.
It should also include language relating to who gets to make major life decisions about the child. Such authority is referred to as legal custody, and it differs from physical custody that determines where the child lives. In some cases, parents may share legal custody, physical custody or both. Assuming that an agreement has been reached in a fair manner, a judge will typically approve it after asking some basic questions about the document. If either party violates the agreement, he or she could be taken to court to ensure future compliance.
Parents who have chosen to get a divorce may wish to consult with an attorney. Those who feel as if they can resolve the divorce in an amicable manner may want to go through the mediation process. This allows both parents to work together with the help of legal counsel and a neutral party in an effort to settle the divorce in a civil manner. Doing so may be in the best interest of their children.