What Is the Process of Child Custody Mediation? And what are the most effective strategies for achieving success?


In this course, you will learn the principles of this alternative dispute resolution process for divorcing spouses, as well as how to approach your own child custody mediation sessions, among other things.

The process of divorce is stressful enough on its own, but when children are involved, the process may be made even more difficult to bear. Battles in court over child custody issues may compound the pain of all parties involved, let alone increase the cost of the legal fees and other expenses.

Couples who are unable to come to terms on a solution for their family can, fortunately, seek aid from sources other than the judicial system to help them. Child custody mediation is provided to parents who are unable to reach an agreement on their children’s custody so that they do not have to suffer the financial and emotional weight of a protracted court battle for their children’s custody.

When Do You Use Child Custody Mediation, and What Does It Look Like?

Divorce ADR (alternative dispute resolution) is a type of “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) that has been increasingly popular in recent years. The goal of mediation in the area of child custody is to help divorced or separated parents in reaching an agreement on the rights to legal and physical custody of their children without the stress and expense of a traditional court battle.

They meet with a skilled mediator in a casual setting (for example, their own home or the mediator’s office), or they can meet online if doing so is more convenient for them. The mediator should be thought of as a guide, guiding the couple through a maze of marital troubles on which they are at war with one another. To avoid engaging in mediation and instead manage the case themselves, the parties may individually employ an attorney who will assist them in preparing for mediation, coaching them through the negotiation process, and creating or evaluating any settlement agreement that is ultimately agreed.

At the other end of the spectrum from a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator does not make decisions on the matters that are being litigated. Mediators, rather than attempting to resolve a conflict, use their knowledge and abilities in order to try to negotiate a compromise that both parties can live with. Successful mediation in a divorce will nearly always culminate in the drafting of a formal written settlement agreement, which will be signed by both parties.

When it comes to divorce, child custody and parenting time are typically the most emotionally charged and difficult subjects for families to agree on, despite the fact that many issues may be controversial.

A general overview of the child welfare system

A child custody agreement is not the black-and-white option that many people assume it to be: one spouse gets the kids, the other doesn’t, and that’s the end of it. There are numerous factors to consider. While both parents are actively involved in their children’s life, it has been demonstrated that the children fare better. This is the ideal that the courts strive for when determining custody issues between parents.

Children’s custody is comprised of two core concepts: legal custody and physical custody, which are both discussed in further depth later in this article. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions about the most important areas of a child’s life, including schooling, religious upbringing, and non-emergency medical treatment, among other things. Unless one parent is shown to be disqualified for some reason, courts prefer that parents share legal custody of their children where it is possible.

The place where a child will spend the most of his or her time is referred to as physical custody. A substantial part of physical custody is dictated by the geographical location of each parent’s house; nonetheless, the objective is to arrive at an arrangement that is most advantageous to the child’s needs.

All custody cases are guided by the premise that the court must always act in the best interests of the child involved in the case.

The Fundamentals of Mediation in Child Custody Cases

When it comes to divorce, child custody and parenting time are typically the most emotionally charged and difficult subjects for families to agree on, despite the fact that many issues may be controversial. A child custody mediation session is intended to aid in de-escalating the animosity that exists between the parents, which is beneficial to both the children and the parents.

The distinction between court-ordered child custody mediation and private child custody mediation.

Parental participation in child custody mediation can take place in secret, if the parents want to do so, or it may be mandated by a court order. The participation of parents in court-ordered mediation will be regulated by the legislation of the state in which the mediation is taking place.

Mediation ordered by the court is typically offered free of charge, for a nominal fee, or on a sliding scale based on the financial circumstances of the parents involved. If you are directed to participate in custody mediation by a court of law, you almost always have the option of choosing private mediation rather than participating in the court-sponsored mediation programme instead. Private mediation, if you can afford it, gives you a larger voice in the result of the process and is more successful than court-ordered mediation in the vast majority of situations (in part because of the time restrictions on most court-sponsored custody mediation). As a result, private mediation may actually save you money in the long run because of the court expenses and attorneys’ fees that are spent if a settlement is not reached during the mediation process.

The cost of mediation is frequently less expensive than the expense of going to court since you are paying a mediator to help you in reaching an agreement rather than asking your attorneys to fight it out in court, with both of them charging you an hourly rate for their time and effort. Aside from that, you have the ability to influence the timing of the sessions. The judicial system today does not provide such a luxury, and it is essentially non-existent in some areas.

Generally speaking, once the divorce process has begun, the parents are obligated to participate in custody mediation if they are unable to come up with a parenting plan on their own. However, not all states mandate this. Therefore, even if divorcing couples who are unable to reach an agreement do not seek mediation before filing for divorce, it is virtually certain that they will be obliged to engage at some point in the process. As a result, it is vital to understand how to approach mediation in an efficient manner.

When It Comes to Child Custody Disputes, How Should You Prepare?

Above all, remember that child custody in general, and mediation specifically, is not primarily about the parents individually, as many people believe. It ultimately boils down to what happens to the children. You must make a firm commitment to doing what is best for them, and this begins with being thoroughly prepared for the circumstance you are about to face.

Some suggestions on how to prepare for a mediation session in less time are provided below:

Put forth an effort to get a decent night’s sleep the night before your presentation. If you are meditating, it is important to remember to take excellent care of oneself while doing so. You will find it much easier to retain your calm and think clearly when you are well rested.

Make a conscious decision to have an open mind. It’s crucial to remember that life isn’t about accumulating whatever you want at any cost. When it comes to what’s best for the children, your partner’s point of view may differ from yours. As opposed to leaping to judgments regarding your ex, try to comprehend where he or she is coming from. Additional ideas for child custody and parenting time arrangements may be made by the mediator that you have not explored.

Make a basic drawing of anything you want to do. Produce what you believe to be a realistic plan for child custody and parenting time. Formalizing your thoughts into a plan might aid you in organising your thoughts and providing as a starting point for dialogue with others. You should construct a checklist to guarantee that you don’t lose sight of the things that are important to you in the first place. Take note of the following topics: transitions, which includes picking up and dropping off the children when it is time for them to be with the other parent; how to deal with conflicts; and how to deal with arguments.

If travel expenses are a concern, how should such expenses be split among the participants? In some cases (for example, when the parents reside far apart from one another),

the most efficient method of distributing vacation time throughout the year (for example, whether the schedule will be the same each year or will alternate)

When it comes to vacation sharing, particularly during school vacations and the summer

If a child or parent is sick, talk about how to deal with minor changes to the agreed-upon schedules. You should also talk about the best way for parents to communicate with one another (phone and/or email, for example), and anything else you think might be a problem, such as a parent who is struggling with substance abuse and needs to be helped.

Please keep in mind that software tools and smartphone apps can aid parents in managing all aspects of custody and parenting time, including communication, with one another.

There are five things to keep in mind throughout your child custody mediation sessions.

Even when both partners enter at the mediation session with the best of intentions, there is a chance that the process will run into difficulties. A deep breath and redirecting your efforts to what is best for the children are crucial steps to take when something like this happens.

In addition, the following are some more tips for reaching a favourable mediation outcome:

If there are no children involved, it is inappropriate to bring up marital issues. Keep in mind that this is not your regular divorce mediation session, so abstain from bringing up anything that is not specifically related to custody and parenting time in this session. If you’re going through child custody discussions, reciting a laundry list of things you despise about the other parent is a perfect example of what you should avoid saying.

Be respectful in the way you express yourself. When referring to your children, use the pronoun “our” children rather than “my” children to avoid seeming condescending. Compared to the previous version, this one is more inclusive and less combative. Consider your observations in terms of what you as parents can do together to make the situation as nice and painless for your children as feasible. https://nationalfamilymediationservice.co.uk/

Make sure you don’t allow your feelings to get the better of you! It’s important to consider the potential that, despite everyone’s best efforts, your conversation may become hot at times. Avoid using this as an excuse to dump on the other parent, as doing so will only serve to undermine the progress that has been made in the relationship up until that point. Despite the fact that mediators are adept at calming the waves if you feel that your emotions are getting the better of you, request a brief pause from the proceedings.

Put yourself in a position of vulnerability as often as possible. If you are a victim of ongoing domestic violence or emotional abuse, as well as bullying, the use of mediation may not be a viable option. If there has been past abuse in your relationship, you may want to choose mediation; however, you and the other parent should attend separate mediation sessions. Though it may result in a higher financial outlay, it at the very least allows you to engage in mediation while also potentially levelling the playing field by addressing the power imbalance that is generally present in abusive situations. In the end, a favourable outcome is worth the additional price, which is still likely to be far less expensive than going to court in the first place. If the degree of hostility between you and the other parent is so strong that you are unable to be in the same room together, it is also recommended to conduct separate mediation sessions or virtual mediation sessions. However, in cases of domestic violence, where the spouse has been ordered to participate in custody mediation, certain jurisdictions grant further protections.

Always bear in mind that you have other options available to you. You can still pursue restitution through the courts if mediation does not work out for you. In any case, your mediation sessions will very definitely have brought to light the issues on which you are unable to come to terms, which will assist you in determining where you should focus your efforts going ahead.

Finding an Experienced and Qualified Mediator is a difficult task.

The popularity of mediation as an alternative method of settling legal disputes has increased so much in recent years that there is no shortage of qualified mediators to meet the demand. There may be a list of mediators who have been approved by your state court at the administration office of your local district court. Those involved in mediation organisations give a list of mediators who are also equipped with information about their training and skills.

Remember to pay special attention to the qualifications of each mediator when completing your investigation. You should look for someone who has taken mediation seminars that are specifically geared at divorce-related issues, such as child custody and parenting time disagreements. While a trained child custody mediator does not necessarily need to be an attorney licenced in their state, many trained child custody mediators are licenced psychologists, marital and family therapists, or social workers who have experience working with children custody issues in their respective states.

Without a doubt, first-hand experience and suggestions from others are extremely significant sources of information. The most dependable sources of information about custody mediation are often the recommendations of friends or family members who have actually gone through the procedure.


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