A child custody case can be a long and drawn-out process. This is especially true when it's tied up with a divorce. However, if you and your child's other parent agree on most of the terms of child custody, then mediation may be both a cost and a time effective method for resolving this issue.
The following are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about child custody mediation.
Why should I try mediation as opposed to just going to court for a child custody dispute?
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.
What are some of the specific advantages of mediation for child custody cases?
Some of the many advantages of child custody mediation include the following:
- Unlike the court, mediation is a non-adversarial approach to problem-solving, which means that the process is less threatening. Any agreements resulting from mediation will typically go to the judge to sign off before it can become an order. Also, 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 parents who are no longer in a relationship can cooperate and communicate. Remember, you're setting an example for your child.
Is mediation expensive? How does it compare to court action?
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 they 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. If you and your ex can't be in the same room together, mediation can accommodate your animosity for one another. The mediator will go back and forth between the parties and work on an agreement until it gets done.
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.
Need Help With Child Custody Mediation? Ask an Attorney
If you'd like to know more about the possibility of a mediated child custody arrangement or have questions about your child custody case, there's no substitute for professional legal counsel. Having sound advice and expert representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your child custody dispute.
Get started today and find a qualified family law attorney near you.