How's Your Parenting Skills? What To Know About Child Custody Disputes

It seems only natural that divorcing parents with minor-aged children will disagree about who is the best custodial parent. Divorce can be filled with tough issues, and those that concern children are not only difficult but can be emotionally draining and stressful. The way the family courts see it, the best interest of the child is at stake, and not necessarily what each parent wants. If you are dealing with a contested child custody dispute, read on for some guidance on a few ways that dispute could be settled.

The Best Case Scenarios to Consider

There are several ways to ensure that you never end up having to let the family court system decide on this very personal issue for you, but both parents must get along and be willing to make compromises.

1. Agreement: Here, the parents set aside their differences and animosity toward each other and try to make a plan that works best for their children and themselves. After all, who knows your family situation and your children's needs better than the parents? This agreement, when signed by the judge, is part of the divorce decree.

2. Mediation: All parties come together to talk about the contested issue or issues, and with the help of certain experts a solution is hammered out. A child custody and visitation agreement, if agreed to by all parties, becomes a permanent part of the divorce decree. While this does add to the cost of a divorce, the amount should pale in comparison to having to fight it out in court.

When There is No Agreement

If the above methods are out of the question or failed to produce a meeting of the minds, the courts must decide. Increasingly, judges are relying on the opinions of certified specialists who evaluate the child and explore the family dynamic. These evaluation experts are usually trained in the human services field, such as social work, mental health therapy and psychology. In some states, this role is taken up by what is known as guardian ad litems.

What to Know About Evaluations

This type of service does not come cheaply, and it falls to the parents to fund it. You might expect to pay anywhere from about $2,000 up to more than $5,000 for a child custody evaluation. If other experts have to be brought in, such as those who perform testing on children, you may pay even more. You will probably be able to choose an expert from a list provided by the court, but that varies from location to location.

You need good legal support for a contested child custody case, so consult with your attorney to learn more. For more information, contact a legal professional like Marlene Dancer Adams.