Options to Keep You and Your Children Out of Court
Custody litigation can be costly, both emotionally and financially. The court system, while well-intended, is adversarial in nature, and parties often have little control over the outcome. Children may have to participate in the process by attending educational classes, undergoing psychological evaluations, and being interviewed by the Judge. While some cases must be resolved through a Court process, most custody disputes can be resolved without litigation. Here are two options to consider:
Mediation is a way of resolving disputes in which parents work with a neutral person — called a mediator — to talk through areas of disagreement. The mediator helps facilitate and manage difficult discussions and work towards a resolution, without giving advice or taking sides. Mediators in this regard could be a mental health professional, a financial advisor, or an attorney.
Sometimes, informal documents such as parenting plans are prepared, confirming the parents’ agreement. Other times, the parents may choose to hire individual attorneys in addition to the mediator, ensuring that their legal interests are represented during the mediation. In this situation, a Contract or a Court Order can be drafted by the attorneys if the parents require it.
Collaborative law implements a customized, family-centered process to resolve disputes respectfully and efficiently while avoiding litigation. Collaboration requires that each parent retain a Collaborative Attorney.
A Participation Agreement that defines the terms of the resolution process is signed: in essence, rather than attorneys fighting one another in Court, the parents hire attorneys to work together as a team for the specific purpose of reaching an agreement that meets the needs of all family members. Sometimes, a mental health professional is included on the team to assist with emotional matters or special needs of the children.
Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes
Benefits to choosing an out-of-court process to resolve your custody dispute include:
- It could take less time.
- It could cost less financially.
- It allows you to be more in control of the outcome.
- It minimizes the impact on children.
- Co-parenting relationships can be strengthened.
- Privacy can be maintained.
Pittsburgh Divorce and Custody Attorney
Liberty J. Weyandt, Esquire leads the Family Law Practice at The Lynch Law Group. She is dedicated to assisting clients who are seeking solutions to complex family law and estate planning matters. In addition to traditional litigation experience, Liberty is also a trained Collaborative Law attorney and Mediator. Please contact Liberty at (724) 776-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss process options for resolving your custody dispute.