Know Your Options
Coparenting, divorce, and other family law matters can be difficult, but there is little good reason to make circumstances more difficult, expensive, and taxing on the family. 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. These options allow you to keep the power of the family where it belongs, in the hands of the family. They are often confidential, less expensive, and are guided by the family members rather than the court.
As you can see on the page of class reviews,
one of the most frequent complaints we get about the
Children in the Middle coparenting class or the online Making
Two Homes Work class is, "I wish I had attended this class
sooner." If you are thinking about seeking a legal solution for
children growing up between two homes, consider taking the class as your
first step. The class not only addresses successful strategies
for raising children between two homes, but we also address options that
are available to resolve 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
- Pre-Marital Agreements
- Marital Property Agreements
- Protective Orders
- Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship
- Complex Property Divisions
- Co-parenting Schedules
- Grandparent Rights
Kitchen Table Approach
This involves direct negotiation between family members without professional involvement. They may design their own coparenting 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.
Parenting Plan Mediation
Sometimes families reach impasses that prevent them from resolving coparenting challenges. This is 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 the 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 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, click here.
Early Intervention Mediation
Early intervention mediation, or prelitigation mediation, is confidential process where the family members work together with neutral mediator or mediators to craft a plan prior to hiring attorneys. This method is used before a divorce is filed. The mediator(s) 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 three 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 parties then each hire an attorney (or file Pro Se) to prepare the necessary court documents to finalize the uncontested legal matter.
Mediation is a confidential interest-based process conducted by a trained, impartial third party (the mediator(s)) 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.
A confidential process in which both parties retain separate lawyers whose primary role in advocating for their client is 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 (and Parenting Facilitation)
These services are 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 assisting the parents in the resolution of their disputes,
educating parents about children’s needs, and with prior approval
of the parties and/or the court, and in some states making decisions within
the scope of the court order or appointment contract. The process may be
confidential and in some cases non-confidential
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