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Child Custody Mediation FAQ

A child custody case can be a long and drawn out process. This is especially true when the child custody case is tied up with a divorce. However, if you and your child's other parent agree on most of the terms of child custody, then a mediation may be a cost- and time-effective method for resolving this issue.

Why should I try child custody mediation as opposed to just going to court?

There are several very good reasons you may want to attempt to mediate child custody issues before taking them to court. In general, a mediator cannot impose a solution, so speaking with a mediator will not necessarily impact the final decision of a court if the mediation doesn't work out.

Some of the many advantages of mediation include:

  • Mediation is a non-adversarial approach to problem solving, unlike court, which means that the process is less threatening and parties are typically willing to make more concessions because it is not generally binding. Also, typically nothing you do or say in mediation will be used as evidence in a potential trial, so parties are allowed to speak more freely than in court (always check with a local attorney to verify that this is the case in your jurisdiction, however).
  • The mediator is a professional, neutral party, who is not invested in either side.
  • Mediation can offer a solution more quickly than any trial can. Mediation can be conducted in a week or two, whereas the entire trial process could take months or years.
  • Mediation can set the tone for your relationships going forward. Although you and your ex have parted ways, you still need to be able to communicate in some fashion. Numerous studies have shown that children do much better if their divorced parents can cooperate and communicate. Remember, you're setting an example for your child.
  • Mediation can be significantly less expensive than working through the courts. Rather than having each spouse pay for an attorney to work on their behalf in court, the parents can hire one mediator (who is often an attorney) to help the parents come to an agreement, which the parents can then submit for a court's approval.

My relationship with my ex is so bad, I can't see child custody mediation working; what does child custody mediation offer that could make things work?

Mediation can be done separately, so if you and your ex cannot be in the same room together, mediation can accommodate this. The mediator will go back and forth between the parties and work on an agreement until it gets done. Also keep in mind that mediators do this for a living, and are skilled at dealing with couples that fight. Mediators will stress the importance of putting aside personal issues for the sake of the child, and are very good at redirecting a parent's focus back to the issue that really matters -- the child.

If you would like to know more about the possibility of a mediated child custody case, or if you have questions about your child custody case, you may want to contact an attorney in your area with child custody experience who may be able to help.

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