It’s next to impossible to co-parent without having a disagreement with your ex now and then. After all, you aren’t together as a couple for a reason. But what’s best for your children, not your pride, is what should take priority when conflicts arise. Whether you disagree about visitation, medical care, or some other important matter, here are some of the ways you can resolve co-parenting disputes in Washington State.
Choosing Counseling as an Option
You might want to try counseling before turning to more formal dispute resolution methods. A counselor can meet with the parents together or separately to help get to the root of the issues and resolve them mutually. The counselor can also teach parents skills and strategies to co-parent more effectively.
Mediation to Resolve Co-Parenting Disputes
When counseling doesn’t work or if the parties aren’t willing to try it, mediation is an excellent option. In a study by Washington State, researchers found that nearly three-quarters of parents used mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method.
Mediation can be voluntary or court-ordered. During the mediation process, a neutral third party will assist the parents by identifying areas of conflict, making sure each side understands the other’s needs, and finding common ground to resolve co-parenting disputes.
There are several types of mediation. Most family law mediation in Washington State is facilitative, meaning a neutral third party tries to promote agreement by facilitating communication between the two parties. In evaluative mediation, if an agreement can’t be reached, the mediator will offer their ideas, thoughts, and feedback on the issues involved.
Arbitration to Settle Co-Parenting Disputes
Only about one percent of parenting plans designate arbitration as a means to resolve disputes. While faster and less costly than mediation, the results are binding, and the process doesn’t allow the parents to negotiate an agreement.
In arbitration, each side presents its case to a neutral third party or the arbitrator. The arbitrator weighs the testimony and evidence and makes a decision to resolve the dispute, which is considered binding.
Going to Court Over Co-Parenting Issues
When a co-parenting dispute arises in Washington State, parents always have the right to take the matter to court. But this is the most costly and time-consuming option, making it also the least desirable. When the issue is serious enough, or you can not reach an acceptable agreement through counseling or mediation, it may be time to speak to a family law attorney about filing a motion in court.
Get Help With Your Washington State Co-Parenting Dispute
Some couples are able to quickly resolve disputes without involving the courts. Others need some help reaching an acceptable agreement or need a lawyer to safeguard their rights. If you are involved in a co-parenting dispute in Washington State, you don’t have to face it alone. Bighorse & Associates can assist will all aspects of your family law matter. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.