If you are a parent, grandparent and other caregiver who is eager to fight in court about custody of children you should pause and consider what is involved in doing so. You may be angry about the other party’s behavior and consequently communication has broken down. Child custody battles are expensive, exhausting and often do not produce the results that litigants are seeking. While there are situations where court action is absolutely necessary, many times disputes can be resolved without involving a court. Therefore, before rushing to file a court action, consider the following:

  1. Take a deep breath and think about each person’s perspective – particularly the
    children. Think about how the children feel about the conflict and how it affects them.
  2. Enroll in a parenting class or seeking co-parenting counseling. There are many
    excellent therapists who are trained to help parents communicate and give the child a neutral safe environment to share his or her feelings. Keep in mind that the custody court can order custody litigants to attend parenting classes and therapeutic family counseling, so you may have to do this anyway.
  3. Consider alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation, collaborative law,
    and / or use of a parent coordinator. Mediation services are available at a fraction of the cost of litigation. A trained mediator is neutral and can help the parties understand each other’s concerns. Collaborative law is a different approach which involves the use of attorneys; however, the parties agree to privately resolute their disputes without the Court’s involvement. Parents can hire a parent coordinator to help them make routine decisions about the children that the parents cannot agree upon.
  4. Talk to other parents who have peacefully resolved child custody disputes without
    substantial involvement by a court. It will help to talk to people who are positive about peaceful dispute resolution.
  5. Consult with an experienced child custody attorney about your specific situation.
    Listen carefully to the information shared by the attorney and think cautiously about how the law may apply in your circumstances before filing a complaint with the court. The last thing you should do is file a custody action to solely seek revenge or retaliate against the other parent.

Filing a custody action may be your only option. However, before you go down the expensive emotionally draining path of litigating your child custody concerns, think about what is at stake and proceed in a manner that is in the best interests of the child.

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