Child Custody Agreements: Litigation Vs. Mediation Vs. Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted January 24, 2024

Child Custody Agreements: Litigation Vs. Mediation Vs. Uncontested Divorce

One of the most contentious issues in any divorce is child custody. Many child custody cases are fueled by emotions, making it difficult for parents to discuss matters objectively. Instead of focusing on the child’s best interests, anger, grief, and fear of losing your relationship with your child makes you focus so much on the other person’s flaws, giving you a distorted picture of who they are.

Child custody is a crucial aspect of divorce that impacts the well-being and future of children. Therefore, parents involved in child custody disputes must understand what it entails and the laws around it so that they can make informed decisions, protect their children’s best interests, and navigate the legal system more effectively.

Colorado Child Custody Laws

The state of Colorado uses the term ‘allocation of parental responsibilities’ rather than child custody. The allocation of responsibilities is based on the child’s best interests under Colorado Revised Statute Section 14-10-124 and can be joint or primary. Joint parental responsibility means that both parents share visitation with the child equally. When one parent has less than 90 overnight visitations from the child, the other parent is considered to have primary parental responsibility.

Colorado also provides a distinction between residential responsibility and decision-making responsibility. Sole decision-making responsibility describes an arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility of deciding everything to do with a child’s welfare: education, medical, extracurricular, religion, etc. This, however, does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture. On the other hand, joint decision-making responsibility requires both parents to cooperate regarding a child’s welfare. This, however, does not mean that the child will live with both parents for an equal amount of time.

Different Ways to Reach an Agreement Regarding Child Custody

The law generally believes that it is in the child’s best interest to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Parents are, therefore, encouraged to reach a custody agreement that provides for the child’s physical and emotional well-being. The courts can help make the arrangements based on the child’s best interest, or parents can work together to develop a custody plan that suits their situation. Once parents reach an agreement, they should submit them in writing to the court for approval.

Below are some of the common approaches to child custody issues and their pros and cons

Child Custody Litigation

Litigation involves the help of the court to make custody agreements. It is often used in highly contentious cases where parents find it difficult to agree on specific terms or issues of their case. All facts and relevant topics are presented before a judge who uses his best judgment of the child’s best interest to determine custody arrangements.

The litigation process begins with one parent filing a court petition for custody. The court will then serve other parent with the petition and allow them to respond. After that, the court will schedule hearings to allow both parties to defend their positions, present evidence, and even call witnesses to testify. The judge will then consider all evidence and testimonies for a suitable judgment.

The Pros of Litigation

Litigation provides a clear-cut resolution to child custody disputes. It is backed by legal protections such as court-ordered parental time and child support. Therefore, when either party fails to uphold their end of the deal, they risk repercussions from the law.

Another advantage of child custody litigation is that if you aren’t satisfied with the outcome of the case, you can apply for an appeal. It is also a favorable approach to parents who are too hostile to each other to have a history of physical or emotional abuse.

To better understand if child custody litigation is the best approach for you, consult with an experienced family law attorney in Denver.

Cons

There are some downsides to using litigation for your child custody agreements. The process can be costly, especially if it drags on for so long. Two, since parents can appeal the court’s decision, the case can last longer than necessary, potentially even taking years. Finally, litigation often plays out as a contest, and this can cause further strain and resentment between the parties involved.

Child Custody Mediation

Mediation is an alternative and voluntary way of settling child custody disputes. Parents work with a trained mediator who helps them maintain reason and reach custody agreements amicably. A mediator is a neutral third party facilitating parents’ communication while guiding them on possible solutions.

Child custody mediation begins with an orientation session where the mediator familiarizes the parties involved with the process and ground rules. The mediator then meets the parties to discuss custody dispute issues and possible outcomes. You cannot bring an attorney to the mediation session, but you can consult with them on the side. Once you reach an agreement, the mediator will draft it into a custody order to submit to the court for approval.

Pros Of Child Custody Mediation

Mediation is a cultured and graceful way to resolve child custody disputes. Both parties must remain objective and think beyond their interests to ensure they reach the best possible outcome. They also have more control of the outcome, which helps preserve their relationship as parents and explore more creative and flexible custody arrangements that are otherwise impossible in court. Additionally, child custody mediation is less costly and time-consuming than litigation.

Cons Of Child Custody Mediation

The downside to custody mediation is that it requires compromise, which is often challenging. Also, the outcome is not legally binding until approved by the court. Like litigation, it can also be changed, even if already set by the court; thus, it’s not final. There is also the possibility that it will fail, forcing you to incur additional expenses with litigation.

Child Custody in Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce happens when spouses agree on every matter, including child custody. This helps reduce emotional strain and financial costs associated with typical court cases. A unanimous child custody agreement must address all primary custody issues, such as legal custody, child support, physical custody, visitation rights, and shared custody schedule. You also still need to file additional paperwork to ensure all matters about custody are correctly handled.

Pros Of Uncontested Child Custody

In an uncontested child custody situation, you and your spouse can choose to handle everything without any lawyers. This provides a cheap option for resolving custody disputes. It also has a far better impact on children when parents can negotiate and solve conflicts calmly and maturely.

Cons Of Uncontested Child Custody

Choosing to settle your custody case without lawyers, although cheap, can make the process longer. You also have to go through the trouble of learning about family and divorce laws, which can be challenging to comprehend. Even if uncontested, legal issues may still arise, and these can impact your parental rights or escalate to dispute issues over what you thought was already agreed upon.

If you are trying to arrive at a child custody agreement in the Denver and Boulder metros areas, Split Simple can help you with the custody mediation process to work towards a solution that’s fair and equitable. Contact us today at (855)-665-9920 to discuss the next steps in your child custody arrangements outside the court.

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