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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

Options for reaching a child custody agreement

Tennessee parents who are ending their marriage will probably need to discuss child custody as they get the process of the divorce underway. While going to court and letting a judge make the final decision about child custody is always an option, there are other ways that parents can work together to resolve these issues and reach an agreement that might be more appropriate for all parties involved.

For parents who have an amicable relationship, informal negotiations might be an option. Parents can meet and discuss everyone's needs and come to an agreement. They can then have their lawyers review it before taking it to the judge. Other parents might prefer this method but choose to have their lawyers actually conduct the negotiations.

Another option for parents who want to resolve their child custody issues outside of court is through alternative dispute resolution, which provides the option of different processes for conflict resolution. ADR includes mediation and collaborative family law, in which the parents and their lawyers are actively involved in finding custody solutions. Arbitration is another less-common process, where an objective person listens to arguments from each party then makes a decision regarding custody. The decision made by an arbitrator is not necessarily binding and the parties can continue to negotiate until they go to court.

Once parents have reached an agreement through one of these options, they will then have to go to court to have it approved. The judge will review the agreement, make sure that it conforms to state law and is fair to both parties and approve it, making it a binding court order.

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