In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding family law, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.
What Are My Options For Deciding Child Custody?
In the state of New Hampshire, you have 5 different options to choose from when it comes to deciding or settling issues related to child custody. The first decision you must make is to decide which option will work best for you. This will largely depend upon the state of your relationship with your former spouse or partner. If you can both resolve your issues through mediation or informal negotiation, then your overall costs will be considerably lower. Going through the New Hampshire court system is the most time consuming and expensive option.
Here is a quick look at the 5 different options you have to choose from in New Hampshire:
1. Informal Negotiations. In this scenario, you and the other parent reach a mutual agreement via informal discussion. No professional presence is required. Most parents or spouses are capable of making some decisions through this method, but because this is often an emotionally charged time in one’s life, it can be difficult. Communication issues are one of the primary reasons behind relationship breakdowns. Moreover, the hurt and anger that often accompanies a divorce makes having a rational discussion difficult.
2. Mediation. With this option, a trained mediator assists two parents in resolving their child custody related issues. A mediator’s goal is to assist each parent in expressing their needs, while simultaneously listening to the other parent’s needs. The mediator is not allowed to offer advice or to make legal decisions. Rather, a mediator facilitates discussion and helps with negotiations about disputed issues. To do so successfully, a mediator will employ “interest based negotiations”.
3. Collaborative Practice. With the unique method of collaborative practice, both parties and their respective legal counsel agree in writing to resolve their issues without going through the New Hampshire court system. In order to resolve any outstanding issues, a series of meetings are held. In addition to the presence of lawyers, financial professionals and counselors are also on hand to assist with resolving any financial, parenting, communication, or emotional problems.
4. Attorney Negotiations. In this particular situation, each parent hires an attorney. All negotiations regarding any outstanding issues occur between the attorneys who represent each party. No meetings between both parents take place. One lawyer will create a proposed agreement. The client and their lawyer then work in conjunction to perfect the document. Once they are satisfied with it, it is then presented to the other party and their legal counsel who then review it and propose specific changes. This process may involve multiple drafts of the agreement and multiple rounds of negotiations.
5. New Hampshire Court System. If all other available options have been utilized and agreements still cannot be reached, then the last resort is to go through the New Hampshire court system. After a contested hearing, a judge will make a final decision in the case. In the legal field, the word “contested” means that there are one or more issues that cannot be agreed upon. A good number of NH couples have a contested hearing, but are then able to agree upon the issues and have their case settled.
How Do I Know Which Option Is Best For Me?
If you and the other parent can agree upon collaborative practice or mediation, then these would be the ideal methods. Both options are quite effective. Many couples use a combination of these 5 methods. To learn more about how to decide which option will work best for your unique situation, please contact one of our experienced NH child custody lawyers today.
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