What Happens If We Don’t Agree On Custody Or Visitation?

If you and your spouse cannot agree on issues relating to your children when you separate, whatever arrangement is actually put in place will be one that someone may later argue should be continued to preserve continuity in the child’s life. If one spouse is dissatisfied, he or she is almost forced to take legal action or the “continuity” and “stability” arguments will gain more force with the passage of time. There are several early steps that can be taken to work out the custody issues on a temporary basis. The two of you can consult a qualified mental health professional and/or mediate a temporary solution. If that is not possible, and one of you files for a legal proceeding, typically you will be required by the Court to meet with a “court mediator.” The court mediator encourages and assists parents in working out a parenting plan agreeable to each. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the mediator does not make recommendations. The parties then move to a hearing on temporary custody. Again, depending on the state jurisdiction and depending upon the nature of the dispute, either party may request and/or the Court may order a custody evaluation. Either party may request and/or the Court may order an attorney to represent the children. Either or both parents can be charged all or part of the cost of a custody evaluation or the fees charged by the appointed attorney.

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