The end of a marriage or relationship is a difficult and complex time. When the parties have children, the issues can become more nuanced and important. For the most part, every parent wants to make sure that the parenting plan that results from a custody case reflects what is best for the child or children. Although going to court for a contested custody hearing may be unavoidable in some cases, there are some steps that you can take to try to avoid going to court for your custody dispute.
One tool used by many people is alternative dispute resolution, which can come in several different forms, including mediation or early neutral evaluation. In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator will try to help facilitate an agreement between you and your co-parent with respect to custody. The mediator can help you find common ground and craft a parenting plan that is tailor-made to your family and your child’s needs. A mediator can help you avoid going to court for custody by allowing you and co-parent to find as much middle ground as possible and hopefully settle all of your custody issues. Early neutral evaluation (“ENE”) is similar to mediation. Whereas a mediator facilitates conversations to help reach an agreement, an evaluator in the ENE process provides neutral and objective feedback about what they believe a court or a full custody evaluator would recommend regarding custody and parenting time.
Another important step to avoid going to court for custody is to think seriously about what you think is actually best for your child. Although the end of a relationship is an emotionally charged time, remember that a parenting plan should be crafted to allow a child to have as much time as reasonably possible with each parent, and the plan should reflect what is in your child’s best interest. In other words, the parenting plan should under no circumstances be used to “punish” your former spouse for their wrong-doings in the marriage. Try as much as you can to take your anger and emotional reaction out of the equation and focus entirely on your child. This technique can help you avoid going to court because it places the focus on the child and removes some of the vitriol from the case, making it easier for you and your former spouse to reach an agreement.
If are facing a custody dispute, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Contact us today at (320) 299-4249 and we can talk to you about your custody case and what we can do to help you avoid a long, drawn out custody battle.