When parties reach an agreement on custody and parenting time, there are often other provisions added into the agreement that would not otherwise be if the court decided the issue. Below are a few common provisions:
- Right of first refusal: The right of first refusal means that if the parent “on duty” is unable to care for the children for a period of time (often specified in the agreement), that the other parent has the first opportunity to say they will care for the children. This allows the off-duty parent to spend more meaningful time with the children rather than the children being cared for by a babysitter or other family members. This can get contentious if the boundaries are not set by the parents though. For example, if a time period is not specified and the child is regularly in daycare, the parents may not later agree on whether time in daycare is subject to this right or not.
- Vacation time: If the parents want to take extended vacation time with the children uninterrupted by parenting time of the other parent, they are able to agree to this. Often parents will agree to anywhere between one and three weeks during the summer or school breaks. This time can be spent just staying in town if the parent has time off of work or going away on vacation.
- Telephone/Email/Skype contact: Parents are able to set parameters for contact from the other parent during their parenting time. It is always the same for both parents, depending on what home the children are in at the time. Some parents prefer to allow unfettered access to the children, whereas others prefer to have a smaller block of time (generally a couple hours in the evening) where the parent may call. If the noncustodial parent does not live nearby, Skype allows an opportunity for the noncustodial parent and the children to have face time together.
- Extracurricular expenses: In a general divorce decided by the court, extracurricular expenses may not be addressed. However, this often is a large expense of the custodial parent that should be shared. The parents are able to agree as to how these expenses should be divided, whether it is by their percentage of income, shared completely, or if one parent will pay all expenses in exchange for something else.
- Mediation: Most parents that reach an agreement on parenting time and custody are able to work together to an extent. To that end, when problems arise in the future, there is often a provision added to the agreement that the parents will try to work out the problem before going to court. If they used mediation in the past, they most often will include that.