Child custody mediation gives parents an opportunity to resolve disagreements about a parenting plan for their children. To resolve these disagreements in mediation, the parents have the help of an expert called a mediator. If the parents are able to reach an agreement, the mediator helps the parents write a parenting plan.

This parenting plan may then become a custody and visitation order if it is signed by a judge. In some jurisdictions, the service provided by a mediator is called “child custody recommending counseling” because the mediator, as a “child custody recommending counselor”, can give a written recommendation to the parents and the court if the parents are not able to reach an agreement.

What is Mediation For?

The major goals of mediation are to:

  • Help you work out a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children.
  • Help you work out a parenting plan that lets your children spend time with both parents.
  • Help you learn ways to deal with difficult emotions that may come up over the course of divorce and separation proceedings.

A child custody case can be a long and drawn out process especially when it is tied up with a divorce. If you and the other parent can agree on most of the terms of child custody, then mediation may be the most effective method for resolving this issue as opposed to a court battle. A mediator cannot impose a solution, so speaking with a mediator will not necessarily impact a court’s final decision if mediation does not work out.

What are the Benefits of Mediation?

Among the major advantages of mediation is that:

  • Mediation is non-adversarial in nature, unlike going to court, which means that the process is less threatening. The parties in mediation are also more likely to make more concessions because it is not generally binding.
  • Typically, nothing you do or say in mediation will be used as evidence in a potential trial which means that the parties are allowed to speak more freely than in court. But it is important to check with a local attorney to see if this rule applies in your jurisdiction.
  • Compared to a trial which could take months or years, mediation can offer a quicker solution as it can be conducted in a week or two.
  • Mediation can foster cooperation with your ex. This is because it helps you communicate with your ex about important issues and many studies have shown that children do much better if their divorced parents are able to communicate and cooperate with each other.
  • Mediation can also be much less expensive than working through the courts. Instead of having each parent pay for an attorney to work on their behalf in court, both of the parents can hire one mediator to help them come to an agreement, which they can then submit for a court’s approval.
  • The mediator is a professional, neutral party, who does not take any sides.

Mediation can still work even if your relationship with your ex is so bad that both of you cannot be in the same room together. This is because mediation can be done separately and the mediator will go back and forth between the parties as well as work on an agreement until it gets done. Mediators do this for a living and are skilled at dealing with couples that cannot get along. Mediators are typically good at redirecting a parent’s focus back to the children and will stress the importance of putting aside personal issues for the sake of the children’s best interests.

In order to help the parents come to an agreement, the mediator will:

  • Identify which issues need to be resolved
  • Discuss what may happen in court
  • Explain what the local laws say about a particular issue
  • Offer some possible solutions
  • Write up a custody agreement which will include a parenting plan or a visitation schedule.

If you have an attorney, you may decide to ask them these questions.

  • Can you give me legal advice throughout the mediation process and will you attend the mediation sessions?
  • What will happen if we cannot reach an agreement during mediation?
  • Which mediators would you recommend for my case?
  • How hard is it to make custody changes after reaching an agreement?

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

If you would like to know more about a mediated child custody arrangement or have questions about your child custody case, it is important to have professional legal counsel before proceeding. You should contact a child custody attorney to see if mediation would work for your situation.