Most parents, judges, and domestic attorneys view hearings and custody modifications or contempt filings as a last resort, not the first way to resolve a dispute. However, the conflict of divorce or post-divorce matters often obscures some of the legal and non-legal methods parents may resolve disputes about parenting time outside of court.
The first and relatively newer type of tool is a parenting coordinator. There are different levels of authority a “PC” may have. These range from just trying to broker an agreement in real time as they arise to making (in more contentious cases) a binding decision until the parties can take the matter to court, if they do. Parenting coordination can be limited in scope or broad. PC’s are typically social workers (LCSW), attorneys, or clinical psychologists and neutrals. A major benefit of using a PC is to avoid court delays and having a matter resolved as it is happening. To obtain a PC, the parties must want this and the court order such.
The second and perhaps less thought of issue is going straight to mediation when a major dispute arises. Some courts order this and most require it before a contested hearing. A neutral mediator presenting both sides with best and worst scenarios often resolve some of the most contentious divorce matters. Again, this is one but many of tools but may be right for your case to avoid court and creating further animosity between the parents.
The third type of solution may be asking for or continuing in counseling or therapy. Many parenting time disputes are manifestations of “wounds” that occurred and have little to do about a given date or time. Instead, and mostly at a subconscious level these disputes are about addressing the failure of the marriage itself.
The fourth and final solution explored in this blog post is common sense but most always lost in the moment. This is “giving in” to a request if the matter is not important or the dispute is or will cause the children to miss an important event or feel unsettled in one or both parents’ care. While this may be perceived as weakness or setting a precedent for the future, it is often prudent to be flexible in the world of children post divorce. This may preserve funds for future legal proceedings that are necessary or pay for school or college expenses.
What children learn from their parents and how their childhood experiences went may well reflect on their future as productive adults. So if this blog helps you help your children in a divorce or post-divorce context, it has met it educational goal.
This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who practice domestic relations and handle custody cases across the State of Indiana. This blog is not intended to be specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is best thought of as an advertisement.