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Child custody does not have to be contentious

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For many Illinoisans, thinking about child custody evokes images of shrill exchanges and frustrated parents. But does child custody have to be adversarial and frustrating? Is there a better way, a way that considers each parent's viewpoint and attempts to incorporate them in a manner that leaves both parents, if not happy, at least accepting of the arrangement? Yes.

How can Illinoisans do that? By trying a new approach. Rather than starting a child custody conversation with guns blazing, and then predictably moving to litigation that leaves such an important question to be answered unpredictably by a judge, Illinoisans can instead take a collaborative approach.

Collaboration has been around for awhile now as a way to address issues that must be resolved during a divorce. It is popular because it often produces a more pleasant process while also giving parents greater control of the final decision. It works as follows: the parents (and their attorneys) commit to resolving their issues amicably. They then sit down and negotiate their issues. Sounds straightforward, right?

Sometimes it helps to get additional people involved in the negotiation. For example, the parents may want a child specialist to share his or her expertise and help develop a child-custody arrangement that fits the family's needs and desires. Collaboration can be a boon to all involved, but perhaps the biggest beneficiary is the child, who gets to forego watching his or her parents engage in internecine warfare. Parents interested in pursuing a friendlier approach to child custody may benefit from considering discussing the pros and cons of collaborative divorce with an experienced child custody attorney.

Source: CNBC, "Collaborative divorce can ease emotional economic stress," Deborah Nason, May 2, 2014

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