How to Prepare For Your Mediation Session Over Child Custody

Legal Tips and Resources

Over the years, an attorney has seen how mediation has become an increasingly popular choice for couples that are parting ways, but must establish an agreement over child custody. If both parents are willing to work together, then it is suggested they each hire an attorney for representation and advice while getting prepared for the mediation sessions. Parents will have to discuss and create a plan in regards to what sharing parenting of their children will look like after the separation. 

What Happens During Mediation Sessions

During mediation, a neutral third party meets with both parents to help them reach an agreement regarding child custody. The mediator does not take sides, judge, or offer solutions for the parents. Instead, the mediator helps them communicate effectively and hopefully arrive at a resolution together. The session can be held in a private setting, where the parents can negotiate a child custody schedule.

The parenting plan must be accepted by both parents, and then submitted to the court for final review. Parents will have to go over where children will be during the week, weekends, holidays, vacations, and other special occasions. An attorney is likely to suggest meeting with them before your first mediation session, to ensure that you have documents prepared and an idea of what the most ideal outcome would be for your side. Of course, you will have to be flexible with your perfect scenario, since mediation entails quite a bit of flexibility. But, it will be helpful to know where your starting point will be in the conversation. 

The Benefits of Child Custody Mediation

By using mediation it can help prevent children from feeling as if they have to choose between their parents in court. If you and your partner were to attend court over child custody, the judge may ask the child which parent he or she prefers to live with. This can be an incredibly traumatizing choice to have to make. So, with mediation it limits the stress children may have during the separation process. 

What To Do If Mediation is At a Stand-Still 

If you are struggling to reach an agreement about child custody, we suggest talking with an attorney for tips on communication strategies. Mediation may reach a point where both parents have become resistant to comprising further. It can help to simply remind your former partner that it will save both of you a significant amount of money and stress if you can find a way to arrive at a middle ground. Your attorney may recommend using the following tactics to help move mediation along after reaching a stand-still: 

  • Focus on what would be best for your child
  • Avoid “he said, she said” arguments
  • Provide facts about why an aspect of the arrangement wouldn’t work that doesn’t have anything to do with emotions (ex: having your child on fridays would not work because that is your longest working day and you wouldn’t be able to get off early enough to pick them up before the daycare closes)
  • Avoid using mediation as a way to discuss marital issues

If you want support during mediation regarding your child custody dispute, please contact a child custody lawyer in Bloomington for advice right away. 

Thanks to Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into family law and mediation for child custody.