Parents who are embarking on a divorce might not realize that there are ways they can come to an agreement about child custody that don’t have to involve the court. These methods have some marked advantages because you, as a parent, know your child. The court doesn’t know your child, so it is often difficult for the court to take your child’s individual needs into account. If you and your child’s other parent can work together, you might be able to come up with an agreement that puts your child’s needs first.

Informal negotiations are one way that you and your child’s other parent can come to an agreement. You should make sure that you cover all aspects of child custody when you are making the agreement. Ultimately, the decisions you make about your child’s life will be put into writing. That written agreement is then presented to the court for approval. If the court agrees that your agreement is suitable for your child, it will be approved.

In some cases, you and your child’s other parent might go through the collaborative law process, mediation or alternative dispute resolution. All of these methods have the same goal as informal negotiations but use slightly different techniques to reach that goal.

No matter which method is used in your child custody case, it is vital that you understand your options. You should understand your rights and your child’s rights. You should learn about the process so you know what to expect as your case moves through the process, which may reduce the stress on you.

Source: FindLaw, “Working Together to Resolve Custody,” accessed April. 03, 2015