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What if the parents disagree on child custody and visitation?

UPDATED: October 4, 2011

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Most states require both parents who are unable to reach an agreement on the issues of custody and visitation to participate in a mediation session to work out such a plan. In the mediation session, both parents meet with a third-party, typically an experienced attorney or social worker, to discuss relevant factors in an effort to reach an agreement. Many contested issues of custody and visitation can be resolved in a mediation session and this session typically results in an agreement which then can be presented as a Stipulation for issuance as a court order.

Should mediation of custody and visitation disputes fail, the parents can then pursue litigation of unresolved issues. A court hearing will be conducted and evidence presented. Often expert witnesses, such as psychologists and licensed social workers, will be called to present evidence for consideration by the court. After the court has received such evidence, it is then in a position to make an order regarding custody and visitation.

Custody and visitation disputes can be very difficult and expensive to resolve. An agreement by both parents is the preferred course of action since a joint parental decision is more likely to be followed than if an outsider makes a decision for them.

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