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Know Your Options

Most families are familiar with litigation as an option. But many are not familiar with the many other options to resolve family law matters prelitigation, during litigation, or post litigation:

Kitchen Table Approach

This involves direct negotiation between family members without professional involvement. They may design their own co-parenting plan. This works well if the family members are at a high-functioning point in their lives and are effective in communications with each other. The family members reach agreements and draw up these agreements in a document. They then take this document to an attorney who draws it in to a legal document which the family submits to the court.

Cooperative Parenting

Sometimes families reach impasses that prevent them from resolving co-parenting challenges. A confidential process where families can meet with a facilitator to develop a written parenting plan. The professional is able to provide recommendations and relevant information in order to assist in the formulation of a plan in the best interest of children. With the work of the facilitator the parents develop a co-parenting plan that outlines current and future details regarding how you are going to raise your child between their two homes and can reduce complications. They then take this document to their attorneys to seek input and convert it to a legal document which the family submits to the court and they may resolve other legal matters by the other means listed below. To meet with a co-parenting specialist contact me at the phone number below.

Early Intervention Mediation

A confidential process where the family members work together with neutral mediator to craft a legal plan; however, if the family members have attorneys, they can consult with counsel between sessions. This method does not necessarily include attorneys and can be done before a divorce is filed. The mediator meets with the parties in joint sessions (or a series of joint sessions) where the mediator assists each party in communicating their interests and needs to each other, facilitates negotiations between them and drafts a written agreement. The sessions are generally two hours long and several sessions may be required before an agreement is reached on all disputed issues. In between sessions, the parties would consult with their attorneys, if any, a co-parenting specialist, and/or financial planner. At the end of the process, a settlement agreement is prepared. The attorney(s) for the parties then prepare the necessary court documents to finalize the uncontested legal matter.

Mediation

Mediation is a confidential interest-based process conducted by a trained, impartial third party (The Mediator) whose role is to assist two (or more) parties to a dispute in reaching an agreement. Attorneys for both parents are typically present during sessions. Mediation may occur with both parents in the same room at all times, separated at all times in a “caucus” format, or a combination of these options. In some cases, when the parents cannot reach an agreement on issues they are attempting to mediate, the matter may be arbitrated which is another alternative, but is less commonly used in family law matters. Arbitration similarly involves a trained, impartial third party (the Arbitrator) who listens to each party’s case and makes decisions on any contested issues, similar to a Judge but in a much less formal atmosphere. In some states, arbitration is binding on the parties only where they have agreed in writing to be bound by the result.

Collaborative Law

A confidential process in which both parties retain separate lawyers whose primary role is advocating for their client to help the parents resolve issues. The parents and their lawyers sign a collaborative law participation agreement, in which they agree to communicate respectfully and be totally cooperative in providing information needed for resolution. The attorneys also agree to withdraw if one party is not operating in good faith. A team model is often used in which communications facilitators, financial planners, and child specialists are included in the team working with the family to create a successful plan. Please click here for more information on collaborative law.

Even when parents are highly conflicted, options exist:

Parenting Coordination/Parent Facilitation

A service that is typically court ordered as a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process in which a specialized professional with mediation training and experience assists high conflict parents to implement their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of their disputes, educating parents about children’s needs, and with prior approval of the parties and/or the court, making decisions within the scope of the court order or appointment contract. This process may be confidential and in some cases non-confidential.

If you are thinking about seeking a legal solution for children growing up between two homes, consider taking the Children in the Middle class as your first step. The class not only addresses succesful strategies for raising children between two homes, but we also address options that are available for resolving family legal matters. Family law matters are not limited to divorce. Other family law matters include:

  • Formalizing the legal plan for children growing up in two homes
  • Child Support
  • Modification
  • Pre-Marital Agreements
  • Partition Agreements
  • Marital Property Agreements
  • Protective Orders
  • Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship
  • Adoptions
  • Complex Property Divisions
  • Co-parenting Schedules
  • Grandparent Rights
  • Emancipation
  • Paternity