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3 Effective Ways to Working Out Custody Arrangements Amicably


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!