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Do I have any control in a joint custody ruling?

You do not have to place your child’s future into the hands of a judge. Splitting Pennsylvania parents can exercise greater control in the custody process by negotiating an agreement outside of court. In fact, state legal code strongly encourages parents wanting shared custody to create a plan together.

There are many ways to negotiate a custody agreement that do not rely on your ability to get along with your ex. If you are able, the two of you can prepare an agreement independently, but many find it helpful to work with a third party. Some couples write an agreement together and have legal representatives evaluate it afterward. Those who prefer less contact can have their lawyers negotiate a custody agreement on their behalf.

What to include

Pennsylvania legal code provides a detailed form covering a spectrum of custody decisions. It includes everything from how you will decide education and religion to where the child will live and spend holidays. It includes disciplinary plans, who will handle drop off and pick up from school, and a variety of complex parenting issues. This form contains everything a court needs to make a legal ruling, but parents can add to it as they like.

Making it legal

Once complete, you will need to file it with a court so that a judge can sign off on it. The plan becomes legally enforceable when a judge approves it and establishes a custody order. After approval, the custody agreement is legally binding and has all the weight of a court ruling.

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