Made famous during her mother’s run for vice president, Bristol Palin and her former boyfriend, Levi Johnson and their child, Tripp, have led a life more in the public eye than behind closed doors. Whether it was Palin’s run on “Dancing With the Stars” or a reality show about her raising Tripp in “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp,” to Johnston’s exposure in Playgirl magazine, much is known about the former couple’s relationship and their son. Now, Georgians who have been following the three will likely know that their custody battle has finally come to a close.

Unlike many child custody decisions in Georgia family courts, it appears that Palin and Johnston settled their custody dispute without a court order. In fact, their court records were closed because neither party was actively using the court system. Instead, the young parents came to the decision that they would share legal custody and that Palin would have primary physical custody.

Though it is wonderful for Tripp that his parents were able to come to an agreement without much conflict, it is possible that an unofficial custody agreement or one that is not recognized by the court could cause problems in the future. If either parent tries to change the terms of the agreement or questions whether the agreement is in the best interests of the child, a court may have to craft a whole new custody agreement.

This story reminds parents in Georgia who are considering a divorce about the importance of doing things the right way the first time. It is difficult enough to go through a divorce and have to negotiate parenting time, but no parent should have to go through the hassle and potential heartbreak of modifying a faulty settlement.

Source: USA Today, “Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston’s custody case closed,” Ann Oldenburg, Sept. 18, 2012

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