As a parent going through divorce, you certainly want to make the process as easy on your children as possible. You may have heard many horror stories relating to parents fighting over custody of the kids and know that such a situation can have detrimental effects on the children. As you now face custody proceedings of your own, you may wish to determine how to approach the process with as little conflict as possible.
Luckily, not all custody cases come down to a drag-out fight. If you and your ex-spouse can face the process amicably, you may have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to making custody decisions.
One option for working together on custody terms involves informal negotiation. This process takes place out of court as you and the other parent come up with terms that make you both feel comfortable. If you or the other parent feel wary of such an informal setup, you can both utilize legal counsel to assist in the negotiations or to look over the terms before finalization.
Mediation and collaboration
If you would prefer a more formal setting but still hope to resolve the issues out of court, you could utilize mediation or collaborative methods. You and the other parent still have the most say in the terms and negotiations, but you both also use your legal counsel to help keep the process moving and ensure that your best interests and the best interests of the kids remain priorities.
With mediation, a third-party mediator works with both you and your ex. In some parts of Ohio, a mediation assessment is actually required if there are child custody concerns. When utilizing mediation -- while the mediator is neutral -- each parent can choose to consult with their own attorney throughout the process.
The difference with collaborative divorce is that each parent does have their own attorney, but the idea is to reach agreements outside of the courtroom through arranged meetings. These meetings will include both parents and their attorneys, but others -- like accountants and financial planners -- could be called in.
After coming to terms in whatever method you found appropriate, your custody agreement must gain approval in order to become legally binding. Your agreement must also take the form of a written document, which a judge typically reviews and approves. If this agreement comes as part of your divorce proceedings, you must file the document with the same court in which you filed your divorce petition.
Even with informal or other out-of-court methods, speaking with an experienced Ohio attorney could still prove useful. This individual could provide you with information on method options as well as help you determine what custody terms may work best for your circumstances.