Most parenting plans include a dispute resolution provision. This means that if there is a disagreement about the plan, the parties need to engage in the dispute resolution process before proceeding to Court. Even if your parenting plan does not have this, in Montana the judge can order you to try dispute resolution before returning to Court. In most family law disputes, you will need to at least try dispute resolution before a Judge will hear your case.
Dispute resolution can take many different forms. You can ask a friend, pastor, or any agreed-upon third party to mediate. You may try mediation or a settlement conference, or something even more informal. However you do it, remember the that purpose of dispute resolution is so that you and your child’s other parent can solve whatever problem exists on your own, without brining in a Judge to make major life decisions for your family.
A final note: Mediation is not appropriate for cases where domestic abuse is involved. If there has been physical abuse, or the threat of physical abuse by one parent against the other, the requirement of mediation is waived and the dispute should be heard by a judge. This is a safety issue, and a way to protect victims of abuse from being bullied into accepting terms they would not otherwise agree to.
If you are unsure whether your parenting plan contains a dispute resolution clause, or would like to discuss dispute resolution with a Montana divorce attorney, please call me today.