Reaching a Private Child Custody Agreement

Things to Consider Before Closing Your Child Custody Case

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Sometimes, prior to a child custody case reaching a court appearance, the involved parties might reach a custody agreement and therefore wish to close a custody case. Here's some information about how one can effectively close a custody case:

Question: How do you close a custody case?

  • If your custody case is in mediation, call the mediator and explain that you've reached a settlement, and the mediator will assist you in writing up a parenting agreement.​
  • If your custody case is in a court of law and you're being represented by an attorney, call your attorney and advise your child's other parent to call his/her attorney as well. The attorneys will assist you in filing a motion to close the custody case. They may also present your parenting plan to the court.

Question: Can a Private Custody Agreement Become Legally Binding?

Yes. In prior court cases, I frequently filed a stipulation. A stipulation lists the agreement as to custody and visitation for both parents and is filed with the court. Both parents would come to my office and explain their custody and visitation arrangement and the parties insisted on having something filed with the court as an official record of their arrangement. A judge will then sign the order, rendering it enforceable.

Question: Which party can close a custody case?

The only party that can close a custody case is the party that originally filed the custody petition. If both parents have reached an agreement, the parent who filed the case should speak to the court about closing the case.

Question: What if one of the parties does not stick to the agreement?

Often, for the sake of getting along with a co-parent, another parent may agree to a seemingly appropriate shared child custody arrangement, but what if one parent doesn't live up to their end of the deal? You will then need to refile your case, which includes obtaining new counsel and paying new court fees, so it's best to be sure that a co-parent will follow through with your agreement.

It is difficult to determine whether or not to close a child custody case. Parents, considering closing a case, should first consult with a qualified attorney in their state, who will assist you in making the best decision for your specific circumstances.