Can Child Custody and Support Arrangements Be Made Out of Court?

Can Child Custody and Support Arrangements Be Made Out of Court?

Americans are drawn to the drama and tension produced by courtroom showdowns. Whether they are real-life cases or television dramas, the ratings associated with complex, high-profile cases are consistently high. But there is obviously a difference between watching a fictionalized account of a tense courtroom exchange or following a high-profile legal case already in progress and choosing to place your family’s well-being in the middle of a courtroom setting. The costs, time, and stresses associated with a drawn-out “courtroom style” legal dispute are significant. For these reasons, many parents opt to settle their child support and custody arrangement-related disagreements out of court.

Alternative Processes

Nowadays it is common for parents who have fundamental disagreements about child custody or child support matters to embrace a traditional courtroom approach to their disagreements. Otherwise, they take one of two alternative routes to constructing the terms of their agreements. Once these agreements are complete, they either become integrated into a larger divorce order or become part of the family law court’s official child support and custody orders. 

When parents are able to avoid fundamental disagreements about their child support or custody orders, they may choose to construct their preferred terms via mediation or attorney-led negotiation. The mediation process involves having both parents, their attorneys, and a third-party neutral mediator sit together during negotiations. The mediator does not take sides but instead helps all involved parties remain productive and focused. When parents either do not need to engage in such an involved process or would prefer not to sit down together in this way, allowing their attorneys to negotiate with each other on behalf of each parent may also be productive.

It is worth noting that these alternative processes do not work for every family. Sometimes a traditional approach is preferable. For example, cases involving domestic violence or fundamental disagreements may benefit from judicial intervention. Although it is usually best for parents to set the terms of support or custody themselves, this is not always possible. Under such circumstances, a judge will decide what is best according to a standard that is practically “universal” in the United States.

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

Whether a judge decides the terms of legal arrangements affecting children or parents set the terms themselves, they must be made in accordance with the “best interests of the child” standard. Even if parents come to an out of court agreement, it may not be finalized by a judge if the arrangement seems to run counter to a child’s best interests. If you have questions about this standard or how it may be applied in your case, please speak with your attorney.

Legal Assistance Is Available

If you have questions about child support or child custody, please do not hesitate to connect with an experienced lawyer, like a child support lawyer from Pioletti, Pioletti, & Nichols Attorneys at Law. If you and your child’s other parent can come to an agreement on these matters that advance your child’s best interests and avoids the x-factor of judicial intervention, your family may benefit significantly. An experienced family law attorney can help you to meet these goals as completely as possible under your unique circumstances.