Child Custody Mediation
What is custody meditation?
Child custody mediation gives parents a chance to resolve disagreements about a parenting plan for their children. Usually the family court or parents’ lawyers recommend it. Although it can be self referred when parents have disagreements with custody issues.
In mediation, the parents have the help of an expert in resolving these disagreements. If the parents are able to work out an agreement, the mediator helps the parents write a parenting plan that may then become a custody and visitation order if it is signed by a judge.
How to prepare for your first meditation meeting?
First, approach your mediation with an open mind, willing to listen. I know it’s hard sometimes but parents who are calm, open and willing to listen are the ones who are able to reach a settlement and develop a mutually satisfactory parenting plan. Remember everyone’s goal in the room is the same: Get what’s best for your child, reach an agreement and avoid more court headaches and expenses.
Second, put your child’s needs first. Mediation is not the place to focus on the other parent. Mediation usually breaks down when parents. Avoid character assassinations.
Your mediator's job is to try and balance your child's needs and each of your desires. Be open to different ideas, keep working to satisfy your goals, and be willing to compromise to reach a peaceful solution on behalf of your children.
Do's and Don'ts for Mediation
Do focus on your child's needs.
Don't focus on your needs.
Do think of custody as a separate issue relating only to what is best for your child.
Don't discuss child support or property when trying to resolve your parenting plan.
Do acknowledge your child's special needs according to her age, temperament, and development.
Don't assume there is a standard plan that fits the needs of all children.
Do acknowledge the other parent's strengths and bring up only valid concerns about the other parent's ability to care for your child.
Don't bad-mouth the other parent.
Do acknowledge that your child needs time with both of you, in a safe environment, developed by a parenting plan.
Don't punish the other parent by withholding your children.
Do go to mediation prepared with:
A proposal for custody and a time-sharing plan
A calendar which identifies school holidays, your work schedule, your child's activities
A flexible and business-like attitude