Child custody disputes often provoke the most heated battles between parties. When it comes to allocating parental responsibilities, the best interests of the children sometimes take a back seat to the stress and anxiety of the parents. Especially when raised in the midst of an already contentious divorce, the resolution of parental responsibility issues may be delayed by weeks, months, or even years.
All of this can take a toll not only on parents and children but the courts as well. Next door to Illinois in South Bend, Indiana, a local newspaper recently reported on how much time family courts consume dealing with child custody disputes. The report indicated that statewide, Indiana courts take 39 minutes of a judge's time for “the average divorce case without children.” In contrast, if children are involved, the judge will spend nearly four times as long—259 minutes on average—dealing with the parties.
There Are Alternatives to Litigation
Litigation is not inherently bad, and in some cases, it is simply unavoidable. When your children are involved, however, it is always a good idea to take a step back and ask yourself if there is an amicable way to resolve parental responsibility issues without the need for a lengthy and often expensive court fight. In fact, there are a number of methods of alternative dispute resolution that Illinois parents can avail themselves of.
Mediation is often successful in helping parents resolve child custody and related issues. Mediation means you sit down with a third party who is specially trained in resolving family law disputes. Unlike litigation or arbitration, the goal of mediation is to get the parents to develop their own solution that works for all parties concerned.
Another alternative is collaborative law. This is similar to mediation in that the parties wish to resolve parental responsibility issues without the need for formal litigation. With collaborative law, each parent still hires their own attorney. The attorneys are there to facilitate a settlement, however, and will not participate in any litigation if the discussions are unsuccessful.
Understanding All of Your Options
Alternative dispute resolution is not appropriate for every parental responsibility disagreement. If you have reason to believe the other parent is unfit or abusive, no amount of mediation or collaboration will address your concerns. At the end of the day, you need to do what is right for you and your children, even if that means going in front of a judge.
The important thing is not to act without proper advice. A passionate DuPage County family law attorney can explain all of your options and help you determine the best course of action. Contact any of our three convenient offices today if you would like to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.