Many parents agree to resolve privately future impasses if they can’t agree on decisions for their children. Parents who choose the collaborative process appreciate court fighting can be costly and drawn out. These concerns apply equally for initial proceedings and for future modification actions. Therefore, to resolve impasses, consider returning to the collaborative process or mediation before you go to court.
Example Language for Collaborative Agreements and Parenting Plans
In collaborative divorce, parents often commit to return to the collaborative team if they get stuck and can’t agree about important decisions for their children. Therefore, they may express this commitment in their collaborative marital settlement agreements.
In your collaborative marital settlement agreement, your lawyer, your collaborative team, and you might consider if language like this might work for your family:
RETURN TO COLLABORATIVE PROCESS: Before seeking relief in court, we will attempt to resolve any disagreements, disputes, and conflicts pertaining to this Agreement by returning to the collaborative process or by attending mediation. If the collaborative process or mediation is unsuccessful, either of us will give the other ten (10) days’ written notice of intent to file this Agreement with the Court for enforcement, modification, or contempt. The cost of post-judgment collaboration, mediation, or other dispute resolution shall be apportioned based on our pro rata share of net income.
Or, in your Parenting Plan, your collaborative lawyer, the team, and you might consider and agree to language like this:
DISPUTES OR CONFLICT RESOLUTION: We will attempt cooperatively to resolve any disputes which may arise over the terms of this Parenting Plan. We may wish to use mediation or other dispute resolution methods and assistance, such as Parenting Coordinators and Parenting Counselors, before filing a court action. Except for a dispute regarding enforcement of obligations under this Parenting Plan, for any dispute regarding the Parenting Plan that we have not resolved, after using out best efforts to resolve it, prior to filing any action, we shall return to the neutral collaborative facilitator (or, if the facilitator is no longer available, a mutually agreed upon successor collaborative facilitator) or to the full Collaborative team. Either of us may request in writing the other parent to participate in alternative dispute resolution of any unresolved dispute according to this Section.
Remember Florida courts encourage family law settlement agreements, for initial actions and modification actions. It makes sense to build into settlement agreements procedures for resolving future disputes without adversarial fighting.
What else might you and your child’s other parent consider agreeing on to avoid future litigation? To read about agreeing to a different burden for modifying your parenting plan, read here.