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Program Helps Parents Establish Custody and Visitation Plans

While many people may associate child support and visitation rights with divorce, there are other circumstances in which these issues may arise. Sometimes parents who were in a relationship at the time their child was born are no longer together. What happens if one of the parents seeks visitation rights or custody?

Some visitation issues that can come up include modification or establishment of rights. But what some parents are discovering is that seeking to establish and take care of some of these issues can take a long time. A neighbor state of Ohio recently tried a new process in order to help families establish parenting agreements.

The program was launched in Michigan and is called the Friend of the Court program. Families, who were seeking to establish visitation and custody plans as well as establish paternity, could come in and meet with caseworkers. What normally would take several months was expedited as many families walked out with a plan in place and a court date to finalize everything.

One woman who has a child with her boyfriend had been unable to get government assistance without child support terms. The Friend of the Court program allowed her to get everything taken care of at one time.

While Michigan may currently be the only state adopting this process, it may be something for other states to consider as well. The program is designed to help decrease conflicts between parents who are either going through a divorce or custody dispute.

For many parents, the situation itself is stressful enough; having to wait an additional six to eight months to get everything finalized can just make things worse.

Source: MLive online, "Parents speed up custody, child support process through Friend of the Court," Khalil AlHajal, 03 January 2011

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