When is Collaborative Custody A Good Option?

Question: I work long hours and can’t take a lot of time off, but I need to initiate new child custody and support action against my child’s mother/father. Can collaborative law work for me?

The short answer is yes. Collaborative law is gaining a lot of attention as an alternative to traditional, adversarial child custody proceedings and even face-to-face mediation or arbitration proceedings.

Overview of Collaborative Law Process

Collaborative law may be defined as a proceeding where all parties work together to reach a mutually acceptable child custody agreement. Collaborative law has been used in divorce proceedings, but it is gaining notoriety in child custody proceedings.

Collaborative Process Online

A parent who is considering collaborative law should first check with their state court to ensure their state will approve the collaborative law process. Although many states use mediation and arbitration, some courts may yet recognize collaborative law as an effective means of handling child custody matters. If your state court has recognized collaborative law, here is the procedure you should follow to commence the case:

Each party should use a collaborative attorney
After meeting separately with respective attorneys, the attorneys will schedule a meeting with all parties
The decision will result in a mutually-agreed upon arrangement that should be adhered to by all involved parties

Benefits of Collaborative Law

The benefits of collaborative law for busy single parents are as follows:

  • Convenience
  • Less time-consuming
  • Less confrontational
  • Monetary – The collaborative law process is often less expensive than a traditional adversarial hearing.

Disadvantages of Collaborative Law

The disadvantages of collaborative law for busy single parents are as follows:

  1. Less personal
  2. The decision may not be binding – It’s possible that a collaborative law process may not be binding on the parties, therefore, a parent may face going through a traditional child custody proceeding after the collaborative law process.

Although all states haven’t subscribed to the collaborative law method for deciding cases as of yet, it’s only a matter of time before most if not all, states recognize the benefits of the collaborative law process. It’s often quite difficult for single parents to continuously attend court hearings that may take hours for each appearance. For more information about child custody, refer to the state’s child custody guidelines. You may also refer to additional resources about mediation and arbitration or speak with a qualified attorney in your state.

SOURCE: Attorney Debrina Washington |

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