Setting up child custody and visitation plans can sometimes take a long time. In addition, couples who are dealing with establishing parenting plans are also likely trying to sort through a divorce or separation as well.
Child custody plans are also created when a couple has a child together and are separating, but were never married. Though historically mothers have been the primary custodial parent, more men understand fathers' rights and want greater involvement in their child's life. One of the challenges that some fathers may face is proving paternity.
In some situations where the parents are not married, proving paternity is necessary in order to establish custody and visitation rights. But establishing the identity of a child's father can be a lengthy process.
One state recently launched a new program that is designed to speed up the paternity test process and establish parenting and visitation plans much faster than before. The program, called Friend of the Court, provides a way for parents to meet with caseworkers, get a paternity test if needed, and then create a parenting plan that both parents agree to.
Instead of waiting several months to get everything taken care of, parents that used the program walked away with custody agreements and paternity testing taken care of. All that remained for the parents to do was to return to court to finalize the agreements.
It is unclear whether other states will adopt similar programs, but it is something to be considered. The program aims to help parents who are dealing with these types of issues to work through conflict. For many fathers who want to see their children more often, programs such as these may help speed up the entire process.
Source: MLive online, "Parents speed up custody, child support process through Friend of the Court," Khalil AlHajal, 03 January 2011