Preparing for Child Custody Mediation
The process of going through a divorce is both physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. The only thing that could make a divorce proceeding worse is a fight over child custody. Couples going through a divorce often attempt to come to terms regarding child custody on their own but if this is an impossible task will find themselves in child custody mediation.
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What Happens during Child Custody Mediation?
During child custody mediation both parents sit down and come up with a plan that is mutually acceptable to both parties. Having a child custody mediation session behind closed doors is best for all parties involved. Even the children will get to have a say about his concerns and desires. This takes the stress off of a child who is likely a) already worried and b) afraid of making one parent feel less loved than the other by interjecting during an argument in the home.
Many courts offer child custody mediation as a service to those filing for divorce. It has been proven successful as approximately 65% of cases that use the service find that they are able to create an agreeable settlement. Parents may plan day-to-day schedules and set guidelines for vacations, special events, holidays, and even emergency situations if need be.
Preparing for the Child Custody Mediation Session
Never walk into a child custody mediation session with your own individual goals in mind. It’s important to have an open mind so that you can respectfully hear the desires and wishes of the other parent and your child and compare them to your wants and needs. There are several solutions to every child custody situation and you will find the one that works best for all parties involved.
Make sure you do take some time before the hearing to do your own research. Make sure you know the ins and outs of your own schedule and map out a few proposals. Make note of any special circumstances or events you find to be incredibly important and bring them up during mediation. In the end you and your spouse should be able to come up with a proposal that addresses the needs of your child without causing further strain on your already difficult relationship.
Remember this – the child custody mediation session is designed to give parents a place to discuss child custody. You should not spend the time arguing or bringing up marital issues. You should use this time to discuss a child custody schedule and any other pertinent parenting issues, including a child’s routines, common discipline measures, and any other discussion that will benefit the child.
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What NOT to do During Child Custody Mediation
The divorce process may seem overwhelming and, if there are children involved, very complicated. There’s no need to make the child custody mediation session more difficult by discussing other aspects of the divorce. Do not do any of the following during mediation:
- Do not attend without having made at least a few proposals;
- Do not argue with your spouse;
- Do not use the time to hash out child support payment agreements;
- Do not assume your child’s needs will fit into a cookie cutter child custody mold;
- Do not use your child as a bargaining tool or withhold custody as a form of punishment; and
- Do not deny your child access to both of his or her parents.
You and your spouse may no longer get along but there is no reason to involve your child in your personal conflicts. Your child deserves to spend equal time with both a parents in a safe environment. Take the time to develop a plan during your child custody mediation sessions and allow your child to grow up feeling loved by both of you.