In many instances of child custody disputes following the dissolution of a marriage or relationship between two parents, the parties will seek to solidify their arrangements for the care and upbringing of their child or children in a legal manner. As is the case with most child custody arrangements, the process of establishing the custody and living arrangements of a child will not entail a long, dragged out process of involving proceedings in a family court before a family court judge. Rather, through alternative dispute resolution, both parents can come to an applicable and mutually agreeable set of parameters regarding the continued care of their dependent or dependents. Contrary to popular tabloid media sensationalism, the overwhelmingly vast majority of the divorce and other child custody cases are not resolved climactically in the family courts, but rather, through out of court custody agreements.
There are numerous benefits to deciding custody agreements outside of the courts. First and foremost, many jurisdictions require a custody agreement to be formalized in the family courts, however, custody arrangements made outside of the court will simply be submitted to a family court judge for approval and ensuring the equity of these agreements. One of the main benefits many individuals find in reaching out of court agreements regarding child custody is the significantly lower levels of stress this process leaves. In many cases, parents can negotiate the terms of a child custody arrangement amongst themselves and simply require a child custody lawyer to verify and prepare all legal documents pertaining to the terms of this agreement. The courts costs, extended legal fees, and the emotional turmoil for both parents and children are all avoided when settling child custody agreements outside of the courts. In other instances, more intensive alternative dispute resolution may prove necessary, including:
Even in these out of court child custody decision making scenarios, having a child custody lawyer present is essential in preserving an individual's right as a parent. The decisions made in a child custody hearing, whether inside or outside of the courtroom, could potentially influence an individual's ability and status as a caregiver for their child or children. Likewise, ensuring the best interests of a child means having competent legal counsel present to make sure all proceedings are legally binding, fair, and in the best interest of the child or children first and foremost.
Typically, out of court child custody agreements will result in the production of a parenting plan between both parties that specifically outlines the duties and responsibilities of each parent. In many instances, these documents are legally binding instruments entered into the family courts. Likewise, both parties will use these parenting plans in an effort to solidify their efforts to make a collaborative parenting upbringing work themselves and for their child or children.
Consulting with a child custody attorney is always recommended, as specifics differ from case to case.