Chances are, you and your soon-to-be ex aren’t separating because of how well you get along, which means your divorce could be contentious, particularly when it comes to child custody. But this doesn’t have to be the case, and shouldn’t be, for the sake of your child(ren). According to the American Psychological Association, parental conflict following a break up increases a child’s risk of psychological and social problems. However, where conflict is kept to a minimum, most children adjust well within two years after a divorce. Here’s how child custody mediation can help.
What is Means to Mediate Child Custody
In even the most amicable of divorces, navigating child custody can be complex. There are a number of issues including:
- Legal custody (joint or sole) which is the right to make decisions about education, medical care and religious upbringing
- Physical custody and visitation rights
- Parenting plans
- How the parents will communicate about the children
- Visitation rights for grandparents
In child custody mediation, you’re enlisting a neutral third party to help you resolve these issues. The mediator does not decide on a child custody arrangement for you, rather their role is to use communication and negotiation techniques that guide the mediation process constructively as you work toward solutions together.
In fact, while mediation is most often voluntary, some states now require it before a judge in family court will even hear your case to make sure the best interests of the child(ren) have been thoroughly considered.
Regardless, child custody mediation can save you time and money, preserve your privacy, and reduce the conflict as well as stress for you, your ex and especially your children versus court litigation. What’s more, mediation may teach you and your ex some effective communication skills that will carry over into your ongoing coparenting relationship.
Preparing for Child Custody Mediation
Even though the mediation process is more collaborative, there’s still a lot at stake for you and your child(ren). Here are some tips to help you prepare:
- Speak with a lawyer — Why is this needed if you’re meditating? Quite honestly most of us don’t have the legal knowledge to fully understand our custody rights and responsibilities. A lawyer can help you fill in that gap so you can go into mediation confidently (and they can help you file the child custody agreement with the court).
- Put together schedules — Go ahead and write out the daily schedule for your child(ren) and yourself. That way you won’t accidentally leave anything out during mediation and by taking the time to think through what custody arrangements might work best ahead of time you won’t be caught off guard when asked.
- Gather relevant records — We’re talking about medical records, report cards, letters from your child’s therapist and/or any supporting documentation that can point to what may be in the best interest of your child(ren) in terms of custody arrangements. This can be helpful in showing that what you’re proposing is not just what you want, but is based on your child’s needs.
- Make a script — While mediation is certainly a more comfortable environment than a court setting, you may still be nervous or emotional which is OK! To help, write down ALL the points you want to cover ahead of time to keep you focused and on track.
- Remember: your ex is not your child’s ex. Each of you is your child’s forever parent. While your ex may have been a terrible spouse, that doesn’t mean they are a terrible parent. Challenge yourself to write down a few good parenting qualities of your ex…you may surprise yourself at how many come to mind. Don’t let your opinion of your ex overshadow what’s best for your child(ren). And don’t negate the importance of your ex being in their life.
Interested in child custody mediation? Learn more about
Mediated Online Solutions by contacting our experienced team today!