As a New York family law attorney, mediator, and psychologically trained
medical professional, I regularly counsel fathers and mothers going through
divorce who are considering a
custody action. Often these concerned parents have a fair amount of misconceptions
as to what custody actually entails.
From the outset, it is important to know that custody is not necessarily
about the physical location where the children live. It is about the right
to make major decisions on matters such as a child’s schooling,
religion and medical care. In my 35 years of experience, I have witnessed
custody battles that can be vicious, lengthy, and excessively expensive.
Parents going through a divorce: if you want to be sure you make the right
choice when it comes to your child’s custody,
here are three effective methods for settling a custody dispute:
Mediator: A mediator is a third party who can help negotiate an acceptable agreement.
This is a person who helps spouses communicate, but doesn’t make
any decisions for them. A mediator can potentially save you time and tens
of thousands of dollars.
Lawyers negotiate out of court with parties seeking a therapist: As straightforward as it sounds, this is for spouses who tell their attorneys
to try to stay out of court. This may be an option when spouses have engaged
in threatening, deceptive, or manipulative behavior between one another.
Unable to resolve conflict on their own, they must work together with
a therapist to come to a reasonable solution using their attorneys outside
of the courtroom.
Parent Coordinator: A relatively new practice used in some states to manage ongoing issues
in high-conflict child custody and visitation cases is to enlist the help
of a parent coordinator. This is usually performed by a professional psychologist
or a lawyer assigned by the Court. The coordinator meets with both parents
regularly, handles questions and complaints, and makes recommendations
to the mother and father. These are usually supported by the judge. Instead
of ending up back in court to discuss details such as a 7am drop off on
Christmas Eve or at which house the child keeps their toys, a parent coordinator
will help resolve these issues within a few phone calls.
There are times when using the court to settle child custody is necessary,
such as in cases of abuse or neglect. But know that judges can make decisions
about the future of your children without having all of the facts or a
true understanding of the psychological dynamics within your family. Buyer
Beware! This option is often the priciest.
If you have any other questions regarding an amicable approach to child
custody, please feel free to call Lois M. Brenner, Esq. at (646) 663-4546. With medical training in psychology and personality disorders, I have
the expertise to direct clients to a less adversarial solution to custody
issues. I’m here to help!