Tips for Court Ordered Child Custody Mediation
What is child custody mediation?
If you and your former partner are unable to agree on child custody and/or visitation issues, you both will be required to participate in mandatory child custody mediation. The objective of mediation is to give parents an opportunity to discuss and resolve issues relating to the best interest of their children in a neutral setting. Goals of mediation include: help parents make a parenting plan that is in the best interest of their children, help parents to make a plan that lets children spend time with both of their parents and help parties to learn skills to deal with anger and resentment.
What should I DO at mediation?
DO focus on your child’s needs:
Remember: It is the goal of the court to make an order that serves the best interests of your children. Spending time rehashing upsetting events that occurred in your marriage will waste precious time and frustrate your counselor. The focus should not be on your needs — but the needs of your children. Not to say you should agree to an order that is impractical or overburdensome, but the focus should not be on your convenience or on punishing the other party.
DO go to mediation prepared:
Always go to mediation with a custody and time-share plan. I advise some clients to even bring in a calendar with days marked off for each parent and addressing school holidays, work schedules and extracurricular activities. The mediator may use your proposal as a starting place for negotiation. You will impress the counselor with preparedness. You will also feel more confident knowing you have thought through a plan that feels doable.
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