California parents who are going through a divorce may be able to settle child custody matters through informal discussions. They may also try to resolve custody matters through alternate resolution methods such as mediation. Of course, the alternative is litigation, but most cases are decided outside of the courtroom.

In the event that parents choose to negotiate on their own, they may do so directly or through their attorneys. In some cases, attorneys for both sides will negotiate on behalf of the parents. It is also possible that the parents will negotiate on their own and then consult with their attorneys afterward.

Mediation is a method that may be best for parents who are willing to work together but who may need a neutral third party to keep the discussions going. It is a process in which both sides are allowed to speak their minds and voice their opinions in an open and respectful way. If an agreement is reached, it will be put into writing and submitted to a judge for approval, as is the case when the agreement is the product of negotiations. If approved, the agreement becomes part of a formal court order.

Although a divorce is the end of a marriage, it may not signal the end to a parent’s responsibility to his or her children. Unless one parent has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse, courts usually believe that children should have liberal access to both parents. If, however, things change, a parent might want to file a motion to modify the custody order.