If you’re just diving into your legal separation from your ex, it can be a daunting hill to climb. You’ve both made up your minds about separating, now it’s time to sign on the dotted line and figure out the details of your divorce; this means establishing custody agreements, maybe child support etc.
Stepping in front of the judge and letting him come to a decision based on the information in front of him carries the potential for situations or decisions made that might not benefit you in the way you want. To avoid this, you can go through what’s called an alternative dispute resolution. This means that you and your ex meet together, sometimes with your attorneys, to come up with a written agreement to have a judge look over in making his/her decision.
Having to show your face in court as little as possible will save you time and money through this process; having a mutual agreement allows for this to be possible. Before you get your hands dirty, make sure that all your cards are on the table and that nothing can be used against you; this means all parties (both parents, and their attorneys if they are present) sign a confidentiality/participation agreement that protects all parties involved and requires you and your ex to share any and all information relevant to the case such as financial information that could have an influence on your decisions. Having secrets about money or anything else in this kind of situation does more harm than good.
Going this route has more benefits than just saving time and money. Meeting together and discussing the wants and needs of you and your ex and your children allows for positive communication to take place, assuming both parties are cooperating. Rather than waiting to get some papers in the mail or having a process server show up at your house, you’re directly involved in the decision making process. Being in the know takes a lot of the stress out of these situations. It can be very frustrating to not know what’s going on and waiting around for things to happen; this is your chance to make things happen. This kind of open and positive communication also lets your child have a sense of stability between you two. Your child will already be disoriented by the two of you splitting up and having to live in different places etc. Talking together, avoiding court room battles and showing them that you are working alongside one another for their benefit takes some of the burden off of them. Depending on the age of the child it can be more or less difficult to deal with all of this. What should be taken from this is that communication is key. The benefits to this kind of agreement process far outweigh that of simply going to court and, in turn, alienating you, your ex and your child.
- Homemade Child Support Plans (aboutthechildrenllc.wordpress.com)