Should You Consider Mediation for a Child Custody Dispute?
If your ex proposes the idea of seeing a mediator, you may not be sure whether this is something you should agree to. There are plenty of pros and cons when it comes to negotiating out of court with your ex regarding child custody. One major benefit is that you can save a significant amount of money in legal fees by not attending court over the matter. However, a potential drawback is that you will have to meet with your ex face-to-face. Depending on the nature of your relationship, mediation may be a good or bad idea.
What does mediation entail?
Mediation is the process of finding resolutions to disputes with support from a professional mediator, who attends the meeting to facilitate a discussion. This person is a neutral third party, who doesn’t take either side. These mediators can assist parents through various topics, like parenting time, child custody arrangements, visitation, and more. Unless the court ordered a mediation session, there is no obligation to participate.
What does it take for mediation to be successful?
Both parents must be willing to collaborate with the other, in addition to speaking in person. If one parent is very open to negotiations and the other approaches the conversation with disdain, then a successful resolution is unlikely to be made. The parents don’t have to like each other per say, but they must be motivated to find a solution that works for both of them.
How should I respond to a mediation request?
If your ex sends you a request to attend mediation, you should respond in writing. That way, if the mediation doesn’t work and you have to attend court, you can show the judge that you were willing to cooperate. If you choose not to go to mediation, it is important that you send a written letter explaining why. The court probably won’t view you as uncooperative, as long as you have a legitimate reason to decline the offer.
What if the court mandated that we attend mediation?
If you do not attend at least one session of mediation after being required by the court, then you may be held in contempt. Also, if you are the parent who refused to participate, the judge who assigned court-ordered mediation may not view you in the most positive light during the child custody hearing.
What can I expect during mediation?
Mediation sessions tend to take around 2-3 hours, and begins with the mediator explaining his or her role in the meeting. You may be asked to introduce yourself briefly and then present your side and why you want a certain child custody arrangement. It is recommended that you have a list of key issues that you want to go over in the session, so your concerns are addressed before leaving. It may take you and the other parent several sessions before you arrive at a solution.