As you may already know, it is in the best interest of a child to have positive and frequent interactions with their parents on a consistent basis. That is, unless one parent poses a danger to the child. Divorcing parents can work together when it comes to child custody arrangements, with the goal of always doing what is best for their child. Child custody cases during divorce can be grueling and emotionally-taxing so it’s a good idea to get legal representation so that parents have legal support every step of the way.
Informally Negotiating Child Custody
Divorcing parents who are open to collaborating together can settle a child custody agreement in a more informal way. Meaning, parents can draft their own child custody schedule and arrangement outside of court first, and then submit it for final approval with the judge. This negotiation can occur with or without guidance from their attorney. However, it is usually advised that parents have their respective attorneys review the child custody document first to ensure that the interests of each party has been considered.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Parents can utilize alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to reach a child custody settlement outside court. ADR is a more in-depth process that may entail collaborative law or mediation. Alternative dispute resolution can be a great option for parents, based on the dispute and to what degree they want to find a solution without having to attend court. Options that are available to divorcing parents include:
- Arbitration: The parents each bring forward their side of the dispute to an unbiased arbitrator, who then makes the decision. What the arbitrator decides may be legally binding for both parents.
- Collaborative Family Law: A collaborative divorce entails each parent committing to be engaged in the process of troubleshooting and problem solving regarding child custody, versus “fighting to win.”
- Mediation: The parents meet with a neutral third party, a mediator, in hopes of reaching a resolution about child custody. The mediator does not make a decision for them, but instead helps guide the conversation effectively.
Depending on where the parents live, state law may require them to attempt resolving the child custody dispute out of court first. Then, only if they aren’t able to meet in the middle, does a judge then review the issue and choose the final verdict.
Getting a Child Custody Draft Finalized
As stated above, parents have to bring forward their agreed upon schedule for visitation and custody. After an agreement has been created, the judge will review it to ensure that the rights of each parent have not been violated and that it will be in the best interest of the child. After the document is filed, the judge may hold a hearing to ask the parents certain questions if clarification is needed before approval. During this time, it is advisable to have a child custody lawyer, like a child custody lawyer in Rockville, MD, overseeing the process, to help the end verdict be as fair as possible.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into how parents who are getting a divorce can effectively come to a child custody agreement.