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, parents chose custody mediation because the family court or the parents’ lawyers recommend it. However, it custody mediation can be self-referred when parents have disagreements with custody issues.
In mediation, the parents utilized the help of an expert to resolve their 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 sometimes hard, but parents who are calm, open and willing to listen are usually 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 to reach an agreement and avoid more court headaches and expenses.
Next, put your child’s needs first. Mediation is not the place to focus on the other parent and avoid character assassinations of the other person. Mediation usually breaks down when parents complicate the process in this way.
Your mediator’s job is to help secure your child’s best outcome and align the solution with each of the parent’s needs and and your desires. The goal is find a balanced, agreeable, and workable solution. If you stay open to different ideas and work to achieve the best interests of your child, it is very likely that you’ll be able to find a compromise and peaceful solution.
The 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.