Advantages Of A Custody Settlement

There are many reasons why parents should try and resolve contested custody disputes, far too many for a blog post however here are some of the main reasons.

Last week I was in court and the judge asked each parent if they loved their children to which both resoundingly said "yes". The judge then in a direct and authoritative tone said "well I don't". He stated he doesn't know their children, but if he has to try the case he will get to know them and get to know the parents for a few days, he will deliberate and make his best decision which will surely frustrate one parent or perhaps both as is more often the case.

Judges will often warn parents that if they can't make their own residential custody decisions or work out a parenting schedule that they will do it for them. However, when it is all over, the judge goes home to his family and the parties now have had someone who may not know all of their particular family issues, needs, schedules, children's activities, issues with blended families, work schedules, holiday & vacation schedules, account for travel time on a Friday or a Sunday and yet parents will give all of that control to a virtual "stranger" even though the "stranger" is a trained judge.

So settlements resolve contested custody and contested parenting schedules with a guaranteed outcome that has been scripted, drafted, parsed and hopefully considered all of the many factors and nuances of each parent and the children's needs. In addition, schedules may need to change as the children get older and have more extra-curricular activities and social lives.

Joint custody is far more the norm than sole custody. The exceptions are domestic violence cases, drug/alcohol addiction cases, child abuse and neglect cases and mental illness as examples. Joint custody for most clients means joint consultation. It may not even require agreement but instead participation in a meaningful way prior to decision making. Some parents will grant final decision making over "spheres of influence" such as education and medical decisions. So if one parent is a teacher and one is a nurse, that may result in a good outcome.

Parents need to see the possibilities of resolution rather than view it as all or nothing litigation.