When you can make arrangements to settle any child custody issue without the interference from family court, you should do so.  It’s important to know what is meant by “settling” child custody.  It is not intended to mean for you to settle for anything you can get.  The children entitled to the maximum amount of parenting time absent provable issues of child abuse, spousal abuse, substance abuse, parental fitness, etc.  Of course, it’s also important that you’re ready, willing, and able to provide all that parenting time entails, too.  An equal parenting child custody arrangement affords the children the highest potential level of success as they grow and learn.

Divorce is almost always associated with everything negative.  Parents fighting over child custody.  Parents fighting over money or child support.  Parents fighting over household items and division of assets during equitable distribution.  The reality is that divorce will undoubtedly entail disagreements over a variety of issues.  Lost in the process is that if cooler heads would prevail, most of these issues can be settled with greater ease and the most important of them is child custody arrangements.

Most child custody battles ultimately play out in family court. It requires a lot of time, a lot of inconvenience, and of course – a whole lot of money. The worst part of all is that ultimately a child custody arrangement will be decided by someone who has little knowledge of either parties’ true parenting ability.  It very often fails to consider the long-term ramifications on the children; mentally, physically, and financially.  There are other options:

Collaborative divorce can work because you ultimately have final control over all of the divorce related issues; equitable distribution,  child custody, child support, and more.  This eliminates the possibility of a third-party, namely a family court judge, making the decision for you.   Decision-making is placed squarely back into the hands of you and your ex-spouse.  While we understand that fighting couples aren’t likely to cooperative to the degree expected with a collaborative divorce process, we can guarantee one thing –  a prolonged divorce and child custody fight in family court is all about fighting, lack of cooperation, and costs both sides far more in the long run.

Divorce mediation also involves an objective third party with experience as either a lawyer, a mediator, and sometimes both. This person serves as the conduit for negotiation between you and your ex-partner. It also requires patience, consideration, and sacrifice on the part of both parties, but again – it’s a whole lot better than putting such life-affecting decisions in the hands of a family court judge.

If there is even a glimmer of hope that the acrimony can be set aside for the long-term benefit of the children – divorcing or separating parents do have the ability to retain control over how the children will be able to access both parents for the most amount of time given their post-divorce circumstances.  Divorce mediation and collaborative divorce are two ways in which splitting parents can save time, save money, and navigate the divorce process in a way that is beneficial for everyone involved – especially the children.