While it is always great when parents are able to get along when it comes to their children, even if they are otherwise living separate lives, sometimes this just cannot happen for various reasons.
As a result, parents in Minnesota and Wisconsin may find themselves dealing with child custody disputes and the real possibility of having a judge make decisions for them about how they are going to raise their children.
Sometimes, going to court is the best solution. However, parents should also be aware that even if they are having a dispute, there may be other ways of resolving it.
Mediation is a popular way of resolving a number of different types of disputes. Basically, it involves a neutral person, called a mediator, helping two sides resolve their differences and come to a negotiated agreement.
The process is confidential, so both sides can feel free to have an open and honest conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. Neither side has to fear that information they disclose in mediation will be used against them.
Child custody mediation works in the same basic way. Of course, instead of trying to resolve matters pertaining to money or property, the topic of mediation involves what role parents will have in making decisions for their children and how often each parent will see them.
While child custody mediators can be attorneys, they also often are therapists or other experts in family dynamics and children.
Wisconsin and Minnesota courts may also appoint certain officials and rely on them to give professional recommendations regarding custody and parenting time.
While no one gives up their right to go to court, these experts have a chance to get to know the family and the children better than a judge can while presiding in the courtroom.
Moreover, since judges value their opinion, their recommendations can often prompt parents to agree with each other before going to court.
One such expert is called a guardian ad litem. In Minnesota, courts may appoint a guardian ad litem in any contested custody case. They must do so if there is a credible allegation of abuse or neglect against the child or children involved in the case.
Basically, the guardian ad litem must investigate the matter thoroughly by reading over reports and other documents, like school notes and relevant medical notes.
The guardian ad litem must also interview key players, including the child, the parents, and other people involved heavily in the child’s life. Finally, the guardian ad litem must have an opportunity to observe the children in the home.
A Minnesota guardian ad litem will also be expected to provide periodic reports to the judge and state what arrangement the guardian ad litem believes is in the best interests of the children.