When California parents who are going through a divorce are trying to resolve child custody dispute, they have options available other than having a judge make a decision after a trial. These include informal negotiations and alternate dispute resolution proceedings. Both of these options allow the parents to work together, meaning they are more likely to come to an agreement that benefits the entire family.
Parents can reach a settlement through informal negotiations by either talking out the dispute themselves or working with their respective attorneys. The parents may negotiate a settlement among themselves before having the attorneys look over the agreement before submitting it to the court.
Alternative dispute resolution proceedings also allow parents to work together to come to an agreement. ADR options include collaborative family law and mediation. Both options allow for the parents to have an active role in coming to a solution while still providing them guided tools and resources. If the parents wish to work together but are having a hard time doing so, they could also opt for arbitration. This is a much more structured ADR process that allows a third party to make decisions after hearing the arguments and evidence from both parents. It should be noted that the arbitrator's decision is not final and the parents can still work out additional key issues if needed.
Although resolving a divorce can be difficult, parents going through a child custody dispute can become overwhelmed, especially if they cannot seem to work together to reach an appropriate agreement. If ADR options and informal negotiations fail, a family law attorney can represent a parent in court. Further, the attorney may also gather evidence that demonstrates that the other parent cannot provide proper care for the children and are at serious risk for causing the children harm. In some cases, this could result in a parent obtaining sole physical custody.