If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own to resolve their disputes, the court can order certain services geared toward assisting the parties in settling their matter or providing the court with more information.
Mediation is a process where the parties meet with a neutral third party in an attempt to resolve their dispute on their own. Mediation is encouraged and generally required by the courts. Mediation generally offers the parties the opportunity to resolve their dispute with an agreement that best suits the parties’ circumstances with substantially less cost than litigation. A list of approved mediators for Benton and Franklin Counties can be found here.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement on how to share their children a guardian ad litem (or GAL) will be appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the parties’ child or children. A guardian ad litem is a neutral party who has undergone special training to qualify them for their assignments by the court. Guardian ad litems investigate allegations, meet with the parties and children and ultimately make recommendations to the court as to what parenting plan is in the best interests of the children. A list of court approved guardian ad litems for Benton and Franklin Counties can be found here.