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Child CustodyDivorceProperty DivisionProgram to Address Custody Issues Facilitates Divorce Settlements

March 6, 2007

With a dedicated staff which includes a parenting coordinator and a family services coordinator, the Court is able to refer litigants to alternate dispute resolution programs, counseling, and parent education programs. Under the auspices of the Court, the parties are encouraged, for instance, to develop parenting plans.

According to Justice Robert Ross, the supervising judge of Nassau County’s Matrimonial Center, “The non-adversarial forum for parents to resolve their custody disputes, often expedites the resolution of a contested matrimonial cases.”

The New York Law Journal reports that the pilot program has been quite successful. Since the program was implemented five months ago, 16 of the 20 cases assigned to the program have settled.  The grateful litigants have written thank you letters to the court.

The Nassau County Courts should be commended for looking “out of the box” for a way to efficiently resolve divorces. Other jurisdictions, like New Jersey, have made parent education mandatory at the outset of a divorce. But in those cases where custody is not in issue, mandatory participation is a waste of time.

What seems to make the Nassau County program effective is that it can be specifically tailored to the needs of the litigants. Still the question remains, will this program, which was limited to twenty cases, be as effective when it is expanded to the almost two thousand contested divorces filed in Nassau County last year?

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