When couples separate, their children become an important factor that both parties must consider. Negotiating child custody is often a difficult and emotionally charged process, but there are several different options that couples can choose from to resolve the issue. Three common methods of negotiating child custody are mediation, arbitration, and litigation.
Mediation involves working with a neutral third-party mediator who helps the couple reach a mutually acceptable agreement. This option is often less expensive and less confrontational than going to court. Mediation allows the couple to have control over the outcome and to focus on the needs of the child rather than on their own individual interests.
Arbitration is similar to mediation in that it is also an alternative to court proceedings. However, instead of a mediator, an arbitrator is appointed to make a binding decision on custody arrangements. This option can be more expensive than mediation, but it allows the couple to have a quicker resolution than if they were to go through the traditional court system.
Litigation is the most traditional and well-known option for resolving child custody disputes. This involves both parties hiring their own attorneys and presenting their cases before a judge who will ultimately make the final decision. While it can be expensive and time-consuming, litigation may be necessary if one or both parties cannot agree on what is best for the child, or if there are concerns about abuse or neglect.
It is worth noting that, in many cases, couples may choose to use a combination of these methods. For example, they may try mediation or arbitration initially, but if they cannot come to an agreement, they may need to turn to litigation. Additionally, couples may choose to hire a custody evaluator or parenting coordinator to help them make informed decisions, create a parenting plan or reduce conflict.
In conclusion, negotiating child custody is complex and challenging, but it is important to prioritize the needs of the child first and foremost. Mediation, arbitration, and litigation are three options that couples can use to resolve their disputes, and each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. By being aware of these options, couples can work towards a solution that best meets their needs and those of their child.