Child custody disputes can be emotionally exhausting and financially draining for parents and children. Fortunately, an alternative to a lengthy court battle is child custody mediation. Mediation is when a neutral third-party mediator helps parents reach a mutually acceptable agreement on child custody and visitation.
Parents must know how child custody mediation works, from the initial steps to the final agreement. By understanding how mediation works, parents can make informed decisions about the best approach in their child custody case. One can also consider a legal consultation with a lawyer to understand the best strategy for their case.
Understanding how child custody mediation works:
- Initial consultation
During the initial consultation, the mediator will gather information about the parents’ situation, explain the mediation process, and answer any parents’ questions. The mediator will also identify the key issues that need to be resolved and discuss the roles and responsibilities of both parents during the mediation process.
- Identifying issues
The mediator will help the parents determine the key issues that need to be resolved, such as parenting time schedules, decision-making authority, and child support. By identifying these issues early in the process, the mediator can help ensure that the parents can address all of their concerns and reach a comprehensive agreement in the child’s best interests.
Negotiation is the heart of the child custody mediation process. The mediator will guide the parents through a negotiation process during the mediation sessions. Both parents will have the opportunity to express their concerns and suggest possible solutions. The mediator will help facilitate the discussion and work to find common ground between the parents. The parents can reach a mutually acceptable agreement on child custody and visitation by negotiating in good faith.
If the parents can agree during mediation, the mediator will draft a written agreement for both parents to sign. This agreement will outline the terms of the child custody and visitation arrangement and any other agreements reached during the mediation process, such as child support or decision-making authority. Once signed, the agreement will be submitted to the court for approval, after which it becomes legally binding.
- Involvement of attorneys
While parents are not required to have an attorney during mediation, involving an attorney can be beneficial. An attorney can provide legal advice and help protect the parents’ legal rights during the mediation process. Additionally, an attorney can review the written agreement to ensure that it is fair and in the child’s best interests before it is submitted to the court.