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Contrary to popular belief, child custody cases do not have to be decided by a judge. In New Jersey, there is a presumption that the best outcomes in child custody cases are reached through the settlement of the parties. The courts actually prefer for parents to reach a resolution on their own so that both parties have a say in their child’s upbringing and welfare.
Divorcing parents who wish to avoid litigation can reach an agreement for child custody and parenting time with the assistance of a local attorney. After a proposed child-sharing arrangement is submitted to a Short Hills court, a judge will review it and enter it into the final divorce decree. If you are interested in avoiding court for child custody in Short Hills, reach out to a dedicated legal advocate who can explain all the available options.
Even if parents can agree on child custody between themselves, it is still recommended that they seek legal counsel to help ensure their agreement includes the proper formal language to address any potential changes in the future. If parents cannot resolve their differences amicably and do not want to go through the Short Hills court process, a knowledgeable attorney from our firm could offer advice on the various alternative dispute resolution options for establishing child custody.
New Jersey courts mandate parent-child or parenting mediation for both parties soon after a divorce action is filed. During this process, the separating parents meet with a neutral third party who helps facilitate a discussion about where the parents would like the child to live. Through mediation, parents can draft a schedule that grants both parties meaningful access to their child. A diligent lawyer in our area could implement their agreement into a formal custody and parenting time consent order.
Alternatively, the parties could participate in arbitration, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution similar to a custody trial. In this formal process, divorcing parents pay an arbitrator to act as a judge and hear evidence that is submitted by the parties and their attorneys.
Like a court judge, the arbitrator makes a credibility determination to consider the information each party has to offer, decide who is telling the truth, and establish which arguments are more persuasive. Once the arbitrator reaches a conclusion, they apply the custody factors and prepare a written decision, which the parties have a limited opportunity to appeal. Because the grounds to appeal are restricted, Short Hills residents should consult legal counsel if they are considering arbitration as an alternative to going to court for their child custody case.
Divorcing parents may enter child custody proceedings with amicable intentions to avoid court. However, it can be difficult to reconcile conflicting wants and needs without dedicated legal guidance. If you are attempting to reach a child-sharing arrangement with your ex-spouse, one of our assertive attorneys can explain your options and ensure that your voice is heard throughout the negotiation process.
Even if you seek alternative dispute resolution, you may need a determined legal advocate to protect your relationship with your child. For more information on avoiding court for child custody in Short Hills, contact our firm today.