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This is Todd Burnham, the Founding Partner of Burnham Law, and an experienced family law lawyer with a superb record. This blog talks about the opportunity to settle your case outside of court.

In Court or Out?

Can custody disputes be settled out of court? Absolutely. You want that. You do not want some random man or woman that wears a black robe to be making decisions on the best interest of your child or children. That should be the last resort.

High Conflict 

There are, understandably, a lot of high conflict divorce cases, especially when children are involved. Emotions can get very high, because, as a parent, you want what’s best for your kids. However, if you let the emotions take over, and you start with that mindset that you want to “win” and you’re going to take your ex to court and “beat them,” you’re not helping your children anymore. The only people you’re helping are the lawyers.

Now, just because you’re using a lawyer doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad parent. Effective lawyers can bring a resolution quicker and make sure that it’s ironclad and that everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. Using lawyers as a tool of conflict, getting judges and courts involved, that’s the last option. What you want to do is you want to find competent counsel that is going to get you in front of good mediators who are child-centered.

Document Document Document

We stress this so much in our practice. It is essential that you make sure you’re getting all of the data lined up, so you’re prepared and organized. If you’re prepared and organized, you can go to a mediator. If you get a good third-party mediator that does this for a living, they can take on the case from a custody standpoint and you can get things resolved much quicker. You can even change it to an arbitrator instead of going to court.

Prioritize the Children

The best case scenario is you both prioritize the best interests of your child or children. You work out between yourselves an agreement on all of the major items:

  • Parenting plan
  • Overnights
  • Child support
  • Decision making

After you have a plan sorted out between the two of you, then you go to lawyers that can effectively put that together into a rock solid parenting plan or agreement. By doing it this way, you’re bypassing the need for court.

It’s better that you make the decisions for your child, rather than having some random judge do it. Remember, that judge could be seeing dozens of cases each day, hearing so many people argue about the same petty items over and over. They can’t help but think, “Yeah, I’ve heard this before.” They don’t care about the emotions of a fight. They care about what’s in the best interests of your child or children, and you care more than they do, and you know what’s best for your child more than they do.

So you want to knock these things out and get a solid parenting plan or order without the court, if possible. That is absolutely in the best interest of your child.