When most people think of court, they immediately think of a trial in court. This is certainly an important function of any dish, but it is not the only route to a solution and it is certainly not always the best route.
People come to the Delaware County’s Domestic Relations Court for solutions to very personal, and often emotional, problems. We take care of divorce, dissolution, spousal support, paternity, child custody, parental leave and child support. These types of cases often have life-changing outcomes for those involved, and sometimes going to court is not the best route.
What do I mean by life changing? Well, people filing for divorce may be wondering if they can continue to live in their home. They may be concerned about whether they will have to pay for things their child needs or how much child support they are paying or receiving. Can you make your next car payment? Will they be paying or receiving spousal support? In addition to financial concerns, the parties are often concerned about the ongoing care of their child. Common concerns are when and how much time they will spend with their child, whether or not they will be able to attend their child’s next doctor’s appointment or parents’ conference, what school their child will attend, how their child’s other parent is getting along, etc. These Kind of problems is not only life changing but can also cause extreme anxiety, stress and emotional turmoil.
In some cases, going to court may be the best way for the family to move forward, but it is certainly not the only option, and it is not always the best option. Litigation is an adversarial process and often results in both sides trying to get the worst possible information out about the other person. The process of preparing and executing a process deepens the conflicting parties and requires a considerable amount of time and money. Also, exams distract parents from high quality parenting and typically do not help the parties to work better together in the future.
So if not a process, what are families available to move forward? The answer is dispute resolution. This process gives people the opportunity to resolve their problems without further damaging their relationships or further disrupting their lives. Dispute resolution is unique in that it is not a single process. There are several types that best serve each family and their circumstances.
The dispute settlement conference is a common form of dispute settlement in which a judge or judge brings the lawyers and the parties together to discuss the issues in the case. Another possibility is mediation. During this process, the parties meet with a neutral mediator who facilitates negotiations and agreements. Neutral assessment is a third option that brings both sides to a two-person panel to hear them and provide likely outcomes should a process be held. The neutral rating gives both parties more information to reach agreements. After all, co-parent coaching is a process that allows parents to identify their key goals, improve communication, and figure out how to better work together.
Why are these alternative forms of dispute resolution better than legal proceedings in many cases? Well, these avenues provide an opportunity for parties to discuss relevant issues with professionals in a less formal, structured setting. The parties are able to speak, negotiate and compromise about the problems in the best interests of the child and themselves. Most importantly, results achieved through dispute resolution are achieved through the active participation of both sides so that they remain in control of their own results.
All dispute settlement procedures create a space in which families in conflict can come together and resolve matters. Dispute resolution, while difficult, empowers people to come up with unique solutions for their individual case. When this happens, people are more invested in agreements because they created them for themselves. This is very important for families as they advance. Not only are these arrangements usually more effective and lasting in the present, but they also help families deal with future problems. The result is better functioning families who can settle disputes themselves and are therefore less dependent on judicial intervention.
The Delaware County Domestic Relations Court will always be there to work with families to help them get the best results. We realize that every case is different. We know the related issues are very important. We understand the emotional toll these cases can take, and our goal is to help each person through one of the most difficult times of their lives. The various modes of dispute resolution empower families to resolve current and future disputes, and are excellent opportunities to serve the best interests of our families, especially children.
Randall D. Fuller is a judge in the Domestic Relations Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Fuller is a lifelong resident of Delaware County.
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