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THE CALM AFTER THE STORM: USING MEDIATION TO RESOLVE PARENTING DISPUTES IN THE WAKE OF NATURAL DISASTERS

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MLombr1@gmail.com

Abstract

Hurricane Katrina not only tore apart communities along the Gulf Coast, it displaced hundreds of thousands of families throughout the country. Included in the massive numbers of displaced families were children from divorced, separated, or unmarried parents. As a result, many children have since relocated far away from one of their parents without court permission, causing an influx of parenting disputes among the unmarried parents. Litigation concerning parenting disputes that follow natural disasters is not only expensive, but is emotionally taxing on both parents and children and floods the already drained court system. This Note discusses alternative ways in which parenting disputes can be resolved following natural disasters. It explains how children are affected by relocating away from one of their parents and how those effects are comounded by natural disasters. Further, it explains how alternative dispute resolution methods help alleviate the effects of parenting disputes, specifically relocation disputes, on children. Finally, this Note proposes that all parents should be mandated to mediate any parenting disputes following natural disasters.

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