Having your divorce settle prior to trial can be a great thing. Settlements are possible at any point while a case is pending but sometimes one or both parties have an idea about what they think they are entitled to and refuse to budge. Getting a divorce ready to go to trial can be expensive. Attorneys generally try to find options to settle a case as it proceeds toward the trial date. However, when that doesn’t work a good alternative to going to trial can be mediation.

Mediation can be conducted by court order or by agreement of the parties. It is nonbinding (at least until a settlement is reached) and takes place outside of the courthouse, generally at the mediator’s office. A mediator is simply a lawyer skilled in handling divorce cases who attempts to help parties figure out a suitable way to settle their divorce. The process of conducting a mediation is non-confrontational and takes place in the relatively casual atmosphere of an office rather than a courtroom. The parties are usually in separate rooms during the entire process. If you are not able to settle your case everything that you have said to the mediator is confidential unless you specifically authorize the mediator to tell the other side.

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The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently decided the case of C.D.P. v. D.P. and D.S.P. The case involved paternal grandparents who were seeking to have the Court award them visitation with their grandchild. The mother was opposed to unsupervised visitation. Their was no dispute that the grandparents had peviously been very active in the grandchild’s life.

The trial judge awarded the grandparents visitation. But, the Court of Appeals reversed that decision and held it to be improper.
The law regarding grandparent visitation has been in a state of flux ever since the United States Supreme Court rendered it opinion in Troxell v. Granville in 2000. I have previously written an article that reviewed that important decision which appeared in the Mobile Press Register.

It appears that post-Troxell, it will be very difficult for grandparents to receive Court Ordered visitation absent an allegation and finding that the custodial parent is unfit.

I will point out that this case was decided under a version of the grandparent visitation statute that has since been amended. But, the trend nationwide still seems to be that courts are slow to award grandparent visitation against the wishes of a fit parent.

Jim Jeffries | Mobile & Baldwin County Attorney

Jim currently is a member of the Alabama Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines and Enforcement as well as a statewide committee that has been tasked with reviewing and making recommendations for possible revisions to Alabama's version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). Jim was also recently appointed by the President of the Alabama State Bar Association to a serve on a committee whose purpose is to review and comment on Alabama legislation regarding joint custody for a proposal to the Alabama Legislature for possible changes in this legislation.

Jim has attained a Peer Review Ranking of AV from Martindale-Hubbell® - The highest an attorney can be ranked by his peers.

He continues to lecture to attorneys across the state regarding family law issues.

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Jeffries Family Law, LLC

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