Child custody litigation can be some of the most rancorous and gut-wrenching activity you will ever be involved in. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In most cases, all parties (including the court) would prefer a negotiated solution to a bitter courtroom battle that is likely to traumatize the very child whose best interests you are fighting over. The following are some of the means by which this end is commonly achieved:
Negotiation takes place between the two disputing parents, if possible. Of course, in many acrimonious divorce or paternity proceedings, a negotiated solution is impossible. In other cases, a negotiated solution is reached only to be rejected by the court. This is most likely to happen if the terms of the child custody agreement or the parenting plan were concluded in the best interests of one or both parents, not the child.
Mediation involves the intervention of a neutral third party into the dispute. Mediation is highly favored by California divorce courts because (i) it reduces the court’s workload, (ii) it very often reaches a resolution of all of the issues in dispute, and (iii) the resolution reached is generally fair to everyone concerned.
California child custody law governs mediation in child custody/visitation cases. Mediators must undergo a training course before they are qualified to mediate family law. A mediator’s job is not to impose a solution on either parent, but to help the spouses reach an agreement that both parents can live with and that is fair to the child. Once the court approves a mediation agreement, however, it becomes binding on both parents.
Collaborative family law is a dispute resolution technique that takes place outside the courtroom. The parents’ attorneys double as quasi-mediators to help resolve the disputes. Collaborative law bears the following characteristics:
Full disclosure of all relevant documents
Children are insulated from the process
The parties agree to behave respectfully towards each other
The use of outside experts (psychologists, for example) is common, and all information gained from experts is shared with both parties
Neither party may threaten the other with “I’ll take you to court over this!”
The process ends if the parties agree to go to court to resolve their dispute
The Final Product: The Custody Agreement and Parenting Plan
The end result of the dispute resolution is two-fold: a custody agreement and a parenting plan. Both of these documents must be approved by the court, and both are considered binding after the parents have signed them and the court has approved them.
Litigation Is Not the Only Option
At CKB Vienna LLP, we are not trigger-happy when it comes to child custody matters – we prefer to reach an amicable out-of-court solution that satisfies all of your concerns. Call us at 909-980-1040 or fill out our online contact form to learn how we can best assist you. We serve clients from all over Rancho Cucamonga, including Alta Loma and Etiwanda, as well as Upland, Fontana, Ontario, Chino Hills, and Claremont.