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Child custody agreements reflect changing society, complex times

As many family law experts have noted, child custody considerations and arrangements have evolved greatly in recent years in Florida and elsewhere across the United States, as shared custody and time sharing between parents has grown commonplace.

In prior times, when it was exceedingly common -- virtually the norm -- for a woman to be given primary custody of a couple's children, a divorce settlement would typically address relatively few and simple issues relating to when a former spouse would be with the children, how holidays would be handled, and so forth.

It is a far different landscape now, with parenting plans worked out between former partners addressing many and diverse considerations and being set forth in great detail.

Take religion, for instance, which is being centrally addressed in custody agreements to a degree never before seen, owing in part to more multicultural marriages and unions marked by the different faiths of parents.

Issues relating to religion -- such as whether the children will be exposed to formal religious practice, whether they will go to church, what denomination and/or doctrine will apply -- are increasingly being clarified in written custody agreements.

So, too, are understandings as to how holidays will be celebrated, how education will be conducted (for example, in a public or parochial school?), how the parents will resume and go about dating, how the kids are to be disciplined, and how a host of other matters will be addressed and attended to.

Joint custody and sharing bring about increased detail concerning many such matters, which in turn brings advice from many family law counselors, attorneys and other professionals.

"You have to be careful with this stuff," says one divorce attorney, echoing others who counsel against trying to set in stone every conceivable post-divorce desire and potentiality.

"The thing that has to be impressed on parents is, you don't want to confuse your kid."

Source: Washington Post, "Divorce's details: Custody agreements are getting more complex" Michelle Boorstein, Dec. 27, 2011

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