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Neighboring state adopts new child custody approach

When parents decide to end their marriage, there are often multiple, difficult decisions that must be made. Perhaps one of the most important ones involves child custody. While courts in New Hampshire are dedicated to making decisions that are in the best interests of the children involved, their goal is often to shield children from the proceedings as much as possible.

One county in a neighboring state is attempting a new approach. Beginning in the spring, the probate and family court began piloting a new program called Family Resolutions Specialty Court. Since they began the program, approximately 10 families have been through it.

As part of the initiative, children are more involved with the decisions made by the court. The children meet informally with their parents, attorneys -- including an attorney who represents the children -- and a judge. The program was adopted after seeing how much less time it took to resolve custody cases in Australia, where it was utilized. According to two judges currently using the system, both parents and children seem more content with the outcome of cases that are resolved in this new way.

Although parents are eager to ensure that the best interests of their children are met, many of the emotions associated with the end of a marriage can make it difficult to make decisions based on logic rather than emotion. While Family Resolutions Specialty Court may become more widely utilized, families in New Hampshire currently have options. They include collaborative law and mediation, which can reduce the conflict experienced by divorcing couples and help them come to quicker agreements regarding a variety of matters, including child custody.

Source: wwlp.com, "Hampshire County courts giving kids bigger voice in divorce cases", Alessandra Martinez, May 25, 2017

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