Child custody, known as parenting time in Florida, is one of the most emotional issues in divorce. It is also one of issues that is most commonly litigated.
While litigation may seem like a solution when the two parents cannot come to an agreement, choosing to resolve your differences in court usually begins an odyssey of conflict for the entire family. Children are invariably harmed emotionally and may have difficulties with their own relationships as adults.
What happens when you litigate a child custody dispute
When you litigate a child custody dispute in court, you are putting the outcome of your case in the hands of a judge who does not know you or your spouse. Each side, represented by their attorney, tends to dig into their position and attack the position of the other side.
It addition to being costly financially, the adversarial nature of litigation creates animosity between the parents that lasts long after the divorce is final. The two sides may end up in court again if one side fails to honor the agreement or seeks a modification.
Alternatives to litigation
Through mediation or collaborative divorce, you and your spouse can remain in control of the outcome of your child custody case. Rather digging into positions and communicating through your attorneys, each side can pursue goals and outcomes that are not incompatible with the other side's goals and outcomes. You may not get everything you want, but you may be able to get an outcome you can live with.
Parents are much more likely to honor a parenting time agreement if they had a hand in negotiating it. By resolving differences through negotiation with your spouse now, you can set a model for how to resolve future disputes when and if they arise.
Sheldon E. Finman, P.A., is a family law attorney in Fort Myers who helps his clients seek less adversarial ways to resolve child custody and visitation disputes.