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Options for child custody decisions

Parents in Tennessee who are going through a divorce have a number of options for resolving child custody issues. There are several ways that parents can attempt to reach an agreement on child custody and visitation before turning to litigation and having a judge decide.

One approach is informal negotiations. Parents may do this with the help of their respective attorneys or they may do it on their own. Some parents may prefer to have their attorneys do all the negotiating. Others might want to reach an agreement and then have their attorneys review it.

If informal negotiations are not possible, there are also alternative dispute resolution processes. These include mediation or a collaborative divorce, and they are not as adversarial as litigation. Parents and their attorneys still have an active role in the final agreement. A more formal option is arbitration although it is not used as much in family law. In arbitration, a neutral third party hears both sides and makes a decision. However, the arbitrator’s decision might not be legally binding.

Usually, once the parents or their attorneys reach an agreement, the agreement is then put into writing. A judge reviews it to ensure that it appears fair and does not violate any state laws.

Mediation and collaborative divorce can be useful for parents because of their focus on conflict resolution. Parents who are able to put the best interests of the child first may find these methods successful. However, there are some situations in which a parent might need to turn to the court system rather than negotiating with the other parent regarding child custody. A parent who is concerned about abuse or the possibility of a child abduction might want to discuss these concerns with an attorney.

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