WHO WILL GET CUSTODY OF OUR CHILD?
Zanita Zacks-Gabriel has helped parents in Erie county and all northwestern Pennsylvania to resolve their child custody issues for more than 40 years. Zanita strongly believes in the Collaborative Law method as a means of settling issues stemming from divorce, including custody and visitation – without going to court. Collaborative Law allows parents to talk through custody issues, deal with the emotions with the help of a team, and in the end make custody more of a reward than a battle. The process is faster and generally less expensive than courtroom litigation.
HOW DOES CUSTODY FIT INTO THE COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE PROCESS?
Collaborative Law is about long-term thinking. If you and your spouse both can develop a good parenting plan together and follow through with it with a good heart, your children will be happier and healthier. They will also be better able to handle their own disputes when they grow up if they can see the two of you doing it a better way right now. Role-modeling respectful dispute resolution is the best gift you can give to your children. It requires each party to think not only about his or her own interests, but the interests of the spouse and, most importantly, the future of the children. In the collaborative setting, when necessary, child specialists help parents consider the things that should be weighed in determining a parenting plan, including:
- The health care needs of the child and which parent is equipped to provide for those needs
- The education of the child
- Whether the child should be brought up in a certain religious faith
- Would the child be better served by a shared-parenting plan?
- What Happens If Custody Arrangements Need to Be Changed?
In the years after a divorce, other circumstances in your life may change to the extent that you need to modify your parenting plan. You may need to relocate for your job, as just one example. If your divorce was obtained through the collaborative method instead of litigation, you can use the process again to make changes. Zanita will sit down with you, learn about the changes in your life and create a path to a new solution.
WHAT IF WE CANNOT AGREE ON A CUSTODY ARRANGEMENT?
If parents cannot reach an agreement on a custody arrangement, they may be ordered to participate in mandatory educational, co-parenting and/or mediation sessions. In a collaborative proceeding, Zanita will work with a competent and caring child specialist to work with the two of you in developing a parenting plan. If an arrangement still cannot be reached, court intervention may be necessary. A Judge will ultimately decide the custody arrangement if the parties cannot reach an agreement on their own. Wouldn’t you rather be in control of parenting your child instead of a Judge who doesn’t know you or your children?