Seeking Outcomes That Work
It is increasingly common for people to enter into intimate relationships with all of the features we associate with married couples, but opt instead, to remain unmarried. Couples may live together for decades, purchase a house and other property, and raise a family. If the relationship ends, these couples face many of the same issues a married couple would face, but they do it without many of the legal rights and protections afforded to those who are married.
My name is Maury White, and with nearly 35 years of experience as a family law lawyer, I am deeply familiar with the concerns and needs facing unmarried parents in Ohio. Without legal protection for the relationship, I have seen first hand how bitter a child custody battle can be and how fights over child support can make parents throw up their hands in disgust. That is why I am dedicated to helping unmarried parents find mutually agreeable resolutions through either Collaborative Law or through mediation.
Whether you ultimately choose the Collaborative method or mediation to resolve your dispute, you may find it useful to organize your thoughts by considering a few important points:
- What do you envision as the regular custody schedule?
- What exceptions might override the regular schedule (holidays and vacations)?
- How will you communicate with the other parent after custody is decided?
- Special issues, such as religious training, medical care, activities and private schooling
- The method for modifying the custody agreement in the future, such as when a parent relocates
The Collaborative Law Method
Years ago I completely abandoned litigation as a method of resolving family law disputes. The antipathy and lack of satisfaction that my clients experienced through court battles convinced me that parents and children are better served when the parents can decide custody and support issues themselves.
Collaborative Law recognizes that a couple may have feelings of distrust, anger or other emotions toward each other. The process encourages the couple to confront those feelings and deal with them, which is especially true when the future of children is at stake. With those feelings resolved, together we can answer questions like: What parenting time and visitation schedule will work best for our child? Which schedule will work best for us?
Ohio Child Custody Mediation
I have found mediation to be an effective way for many unmarried parents to decide custody and visitation issues. Like Collaborative Law, the basic idea is to give the parents control of the outcome and seek an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. I am available to serve as a neutral mediator, facilitating discussions between unmarried parents (and married ones as well). I will listen closely to each party’s concerns and desires, then help you determine what issues need to be resolved. I have served as a Family Law Mediator in Ohio since 1998.
Rather than advocate for one party or the other, my role as mediator is to help you understand not only what your position is, but to understand where your partner is coming from as well. By coming to realize and appreciate the other person’s goals, parties can often reach a custody and visitation agreement that satisfies both, with neither feeling like his or her needs were not met. At the end of the process, I can draft a custody agreement that each of you can then take to your respective attorneys for review.
Understanding the Importance of Reaching an Agreement
When an unmarried couple breaks up, the mother is generally given sole custody of the children. To obtain child support, she needs to file a request with the juvenile court. Similarly, the father has to request parenting time. As you may imagine, the involvement of a court sets an adversarial tone right away. That is why I strongly encourage you to contact me to learn more about Collaborative Law, mediation, and how I can help you and your children find custody and support solutions that work for all concerned, without the need for litigation.