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Going to Court: Is it Necessary in Determining Custody of a Child?

Going to Court: Is it Necessary in Determining Custody of a Child?

Going through a divorce or a separation is a difficult process that can be made even more challenging when children are involved. While you have to file with a court to begin the divorce process, you do not necessarily have to attend a court hearing to determine the custody of your child or children. When resolving child custody issues in a court, the judge will consider multiple factors such as each parent’s relationship with the child, the child’s background and their adjustment to their home, neighborhood, and school, and the mental and physical health of the child and the parents. The judge will then determine how legal and physical custody is awarded. At the same time, the judge will order the parties to participate in visitation schedules.

Parents can avoid attending a hearing by negotiating child custody during mediation. A mediator is a professional, neutral party, who is not invested in either side. Unlike a judge, the mediator does not make decisions on the custody matter, but instead they try to facilitate a compromise that both parents can work with. This compromise will involve creating a parenting plan that details the schedule, duties, and responsibilities in relation to their child. If the parents reach an agreement on their parenting plan during their mediation, the mediator will prepare a written agreement, which the parents will sign on the day of mediation. The agreement will later be filed with the court and the parents will be bound by their parenting plan.

In some cases, mediation is mandatory, but generally mediation can take the stress off already-battling parents, may allow the children to have a say in the decision-making process, and typically is more cost effective than resolving a custody matter in court. Nonetheless, establishing where to resolve custody matters will depend on the complexity of the parents’ situation, but knowing alternative options may ease the separation process for a family.

If you are going through a divorce or separation that may require determining the custody of a child, contact McNeely Law today at (317) 825-5110 to talk to an experienced family law attorney who can help you navigate your case.

This McNeely Law LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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