Courts in Dallas base custody decisions on what’s in the child’s best interest. That should be the same goal when attempting to reach a custody agreement out of court. The following are three methods parents may use to come to an agreement without going to the courtroom: mutual agreement, mediation and collaborative divorce.
Ways to Reach a Child Custody Agreement without the Court System
The ideal situation is that both parents can sit down together and come up with a mutual agreement. One of the important decisions to make is who will get primary custody of the child.
This is where the child spends most of his/her time. But then both must agree to a visitation schedule for the parent who doesn’t have primary custody. A parenting plan should also address issues such as where the child will spend holidays and school breaks.
Unfortunately, not all parents work well together. But it still doesn’t mean the case has to wind up in the courtroom. The courtroom should be the last resort, as the decision could end up being unfavorable to one or both parents.
A similar but more structured form of mutual agreement is mediation, which is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This is another way to reach a child custody agreement out of court. Instead of just the parents discussing custody issues, a mediator (who is a neutral third party) helps negotiate.
One of the benefits is that even if the parents can’t work together, it still eliminates a lot of the hostility common with litigation. Also, the parents can be sure their rights are upheld in this situation. Finally, the mediator doesn’t have the legal authority to impose an agreement, the parents can decide for themselves.
Mediation also circumvents the need to present witnesses. And decisions are usually reached much faster than going to court. Lawyers aren’t necessary, but it’s still recommended to have legal counsel.
On the other hand is collaborative divorce. Another type of ADR, collaborative divorce uses lawyers for both sides rather than a mediator to reach a resolution. Sometimes others help with the process, depending on the needs. For instance, child custody experts may assist in the process, while accountants may be of assistance for other matters in the divorce.
Important Factors in a Child Custody Agreement
Whatever method you use to get a custody agreement without the court, there will be some important issues that factor into it. As mentioned, both sides must decide with whom the child will primarily live and what the visitation schedule for the other parent will look like.
But it’s important to consider other decisions, such as the child’s education. Will the child need to transfer to a new school? Also, religious decisions might need addressing, such as which religious institution the child will attend. The child’s medical care is another factor. Which insurance plan will cover the child? Who will pay for out-of-pocket expenses, such as braces?
Coming up with a child custody agreement may or may not be easy. That depends on the issues and the parents’ ability to work together. But even if attempting to resolve matters outside of court, seek legal advice. Call an attorney at Warren & Migliaccio to set up a consultation to discuss how to reach a custody agreement without involving the court: 888-584-9614.