The issue of child custody can be a major concern when the parents' relationship comes to an end. In Rhode Island, if a child's parents divorce, or if they were never married but have ended their relationship with one another, legal custody and physical custody of the child will need to be awarded to either one party or the other, or to both.
Family courts in Rhode Island permit and encourage parents to create a child custody plan out-of-court. After all, it is the parents who best understand the needs of their child and can take their child's unique personality into account in a way that may be more meaningful than if the decision was left totally up to a judge. That being said, any child custody plans created out-of-court still need to be approved by a judge.
When parents are creating an out-of-court child custody plan, they may turn to mediation to resolve the issue. Through mediation, the parents can work together, with the help of a neutral party serving as a sounding board and facilitator, to hash out a plan that is fair to both the parents and the child.
However, if parents in Rhode Island simply cannot create a child custody plan out-of-court that meets the child's best interests, the issue may still be litigated. Whether a parent chooses to settle the matter out-of-court or whether the parent feels that the issue would best be left to a judge, it is important that each parent get the right information about their options. Attorney Steven J. Hirsch, Esq., has served both as legal counsel and as a mediator in child custody cases. To learn more about child custody and mediation in Rhode Island, the firm's child custody web page may be a good resource.