Determining Child Custody and Visitations Without a Lawyer
In a divorce or legal separation, it is fairly common and understandable for the couple to reach a custody arrangement without wanting any involvement of the court in their personal lives. If the parents consider the needs of children as their first concern and mutually agree to a visitation schedule in a mature manner, the court will probably deem not to intervene.
Read on to discover how informal negotiations, mediation, and parenting agreements can help you avoid protracted and expensive court battles.
Informal Negotiations and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Parents who are separating amicably may do well to agree on a custody arrangement by drawing up a written agreement themselves. Parents can resolve child custody discords through alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a concept by which parties can settle mutual differences without the need for a lengthy courtroom trial.
Through the ADR process, parents can informally negotiate a parenting plan in a more relaxed and less antagonistic setting than an overbearing courtroom, with or without the help of their attorneys. ADR may have its advantages depending on the degree of the conflict between the parents, and the extent of their resolve to settle the conflicts, by showing a willingness to work together.
Let us further discuss the two common types of alternative dispute resolution, which are, child custody mediation and collaborative family law.
Child Custody Mediation
Third-party mediation is an informal negotiation, with the aid of a mediator, that helps in the resolution of a big percentage of custody cases. The mediator helps the parents settle their differences away from the stressful and hostile process of litigation.
While the mediator has no legal authority to enforce a solution, both parents get a chance to achieve the shared objective of serving their child’s best interest. A mediator’s role is to create an environment where the parents can reach an agreement between themselves.
The law in many states requires parents to try mediation as a first effort to reach an agreement on child custody and visitation.
Some of the inherent advantages of mediation include:
- No involvement of attorneys or expert witnesses
- Usually requires far less time to reach a settlement
- Opens up and improves communication between the couple, making it more likely for them to work together after the divorce to raise their children
These are the typical steps in the child custody mediation process:
- Getting introduced to the mediator in a preliminary meeting
- Determining and categorizing issues
- Considering the issues and talking about solutions with an open mind
- Drawing up a custody agreement
The number of issues and their complexity, along with the commitment shown by all parties, will determine the length of the mediation process. An impartial mediator facilitates dialogue which goes a long way in easing the tensions, besides helping you resolve issues in a mature manner.
Collaborative Family Law
Collaborative law is a process that brings the two attorneys together in order to resolve the disputed issues. The process differs from mediation and alternative dispute resolution as there is no third party to mediate or guide the two parties. The collaborative law approach can be useful in reducing acrimony between the two parties, as well as cutting down legal expenses of a child custody trial.
In collaborative law, both the parties can confer and obtain legal advice from their lawyers and as the dialogue progresses, they may hire experts to help them with technical and financial aspects of child custody and support, such as asset valuation, accounting, etc.
Devising a Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is a written document that draws up the parenting schedule and may outline the responsibilities of both parents towards their children. There is no standard parenting plan that may fit all custody agreements, as the needs of each set of parents and their children are unique.
A parenting plan may be meticulous and extended, or quite simple and concise. When parents agree on forging a plan according to the needs of their family, they will lessen the number of conflicts and disagreements that can usually crop up during court battles.
A parenting agreement can go a long way in helping to set up a successful and amicable post-divorce relationship. A written parenting plan can help keep both the parents from making unreasonable decisions and enables them to work together honestly, in the best interests of their children.
Seek legal guidance from an experienced attorney before you sign any agreement. Once you prepare a parenting plan, the court will scrutinize it to see if it is in the best interests of your children. Parenting plans can play a crucial role in your success as a co-parent after divorce, as these plans establish parenting goals and specify schedules and responsibilities for each parent.
Contact the Knowledgeable and Compassionate Kentucky Family Law Attorney at John H. Ruby & Associates
At John H. Ruby & Associates, we offer strong and practical legal guidance on divorce and other family legal matters. If you and your spouse are considering divorce or separation, contact us to discuss all your legal options. Call our office at (502) 373-8044 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.