Anatomy of Child Custody Part 1: Mediation

Mediation Dispute Resolution

One of the most arduous and heart-wrenching battles you can go through is a child custody battle. Combine these difficult situations with courtroom trials and huge legal fees, and the entire process can leave you feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.

But when it comes to child custody, you want to give it the time and attention it deserves.

In this three-part series, we will be discussing the individual processes that accompany a child custody case: mediation, court decisions, and what happens post-litigation.

What is mediation?

11 percent of custody cases are determined with the assistance of a mediator and is a process that does not need to be addressed in a courtroom. Mediation is a private process in which a neutral third party helps two parents mutually agree on a custody arrangement for their child. A mediator does not have the ability to enforce any of the custody arrangements decided by the parents. If both parents agree to go this route, there are many benefits:

  • It saves time. A resolution is typically found much faster in this setting as opposed to a trial, which has the potential of lasting up to several months or even years.
  • It’s less expensive. Mediation only requires one mediator and has no courtroom fees, other than the cost of having a judge adjudicate the agreement.
  • It’s less emotionally taxing. Mediation offers a more relaxed, non-adversarial atmosphere to discuss custody arrangements.
  • It helps retain a positive relationship. Mediation enables both parents to have clear and open communication throughout the process.

What does a mediation session look like?

The goal of using a mediator is to come to a non-adversarial agreement both parties agree on. During meeting sessions, the mediator will speak with each parent about what they desire and learn the specific circumstances that surround each parent individually. The mediator will help both parents to identify and organize the issues at hand. If the parents don’t want to be in the same room, the mediator can meet with them separately. The goal of mediation is not to hash out old arguments between parents, but to discuss what is best for the child. Come to the meeting ready to listen and make some compromises.

What if both parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement?

In some cases, even with the help of a professional mediator, parents are unable to come to a resolution. When this happens, they will need to bring the matter to court where a judge will decide the final outcome.

In part two of our series, we discuss the process of determining child custody when taken to court.