Maybe you never formally adopted your stepchildren, but you intend to pay support and want parenting time with them because you view them as part of your family. Perhaps you have companion animals or pets that are so important to you that you can’t imagine losing them as a result of the divorce.
You might even have really unusual assets and strong feelings about the best way to split them up in your divorce. Regardless of what unusual circumstances set your marriage and potential divorce apart from more common scenarios, mediation and collaborative divorce are typically a better option than litigated divorce for people with highly unusual circumstances.
Mediation or collaborative law allows for uncontested divorces
When you file a contested divorce, you basically tell the courts that you can’t agree on terms and that they need to step in and make important decisions on your behalf. That means that the judge hearing your case will be the one who decides all of the major issues, leaving you with very little control over the outcome.
For those who need specific terms in their divorce, working with their ex to set those terms through collaborative law or mediation will ensure your divorce outcome is something that both parties can accept. You have the ability to compromise in some areas and hold firm in others, which won’t be an option in court. Once you reach a compromise, you can then file an uncontested divorce.
When you file an uncontested divorce, the courts don’t need to make any decisions on your behalf. They simply follow the legal process for dissolving your marriage and approve the terms that you set before filing.
The courts will approve terms that they would never spend time deciding themselves
The family courts are very busy handling disputes, so there is a limit to what they want to hear when it comes to divorce proceedings. The family courts in Pennsylvania generally won’t hear arguments about pet custody (despite lawmakers wanting to close this legal loophole) or take the time to plan for visitation or shared custody for animals.
The same is likely true in a scenario with a blended family and a stepparent who, despite not having a legal relationship with their stepchildren, wants to continue playing a role in their lives. While the courts may not reach a stepchild custody and support determination on their own, you and your ex can set those terms yourselves and then ask the court to approve them.