While you may be able to get through the financial elements of a divorce, handling the future of your child custody arrangement can be emotional and stressful. Both parents will have to face the reality you will not be with your children full-time and will have to come to an agreement about a functional parenting agreement. Establishing a new schedule can be difficult for parents and children, but it is important to take advanced steps to come to an equitable and lasting compromise.
Whether you are considering divorce or have already filed, it is important to understand how the parenting schedule process will work. Some parents may be able to work toward an agreement without an intervention. Others can benefit from mediation or collaborative divorce. In some cases, a court ordered agreement is the last option. In some states, the court will order a mediation where both parents can meet with a professional counselor who can advise on establishing a parenting schedule for you and your family. The court will then consider the mediation when making custody and visitation determinations.
Every jurisdiction is unique when weighing these recommendations, so it is important to know your rights and the way mediation will be used in court.
Here are some ways you can prepare for your child custody determination:
Make your needs, concerns and desires known up front. You don't want to go into mediation and get blindsided by a former spouse who already has a set idea and plan without your input. Before you head into mediation, consider what you want, what would work best for your children and be reasonable about potential accommodations you may have to make. Having a clear idea up front will also help you resist getting too emotional or getting distracted during the mediation.
Consult with an experienced legal advocate. Never depend on a mediator or court to protect your interests. You need independent counsel to inform you of Alabama laws as well as how a court is likely to view your case. An experienced attorney can also help you to present your position, represent your interest and give you necessary tools to succeed in mediation.
Consider working toward an independent agreement. Parents will face unique challenges when negotiating a settlement. Your children may have special needs or you may have mutual agreements about what will work best for your family. If possible, consider meeting with your former spouse – attorneys present – about your needs and concerns. There may be issues you can agree on before heading into mediation.
Remember the long-term impact. Keep in mind the family law courts and mediators are looking to establish a long-term solution for your family. Keeping an open-mind and being communicative and assertive can help you protect your rights, while also protecting the best interests of your children. While mediation can be beneficial in working toward a solution, there may come a point where intervention by a family law court is necessary. Our Birmingham child custody attorneys are available to provide support and counsel at every stage of the divorce and settlement process.
If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.