Despite our best intentions, marriages and partnerships don’t always work out. Divorce or separation is an upsetting time for the whole family, and it can be made more challenging when children are involved. Child custody mediation is a method used to dispute and resolve child custody claims, without expensive court battles.
Below we look at how child custody mediation works and what to expect.
What is Child Custody Mediation?
Mediation has become a popular way to resolve issues in divorce settlements and is a method known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Child custody mediation is a helpful way to resolve issues for both unmarried and divorcing parents. Mediation is much cheaper than traditional court cases, allowing parents to settle custody of their children without further expense and conflict.
What Happens During a Child Custody Mediation Session?
During a child custody mediation session, parents will meet with a trained mediator. Mediation is often carried out in an office. It is best to have a child custody attorney to represent you during the case, who can prepare you for mediation and coach you through the negotiation process. The mediator will help both parents settle on who gets custody of their children and when.
For instance, it may be best for the children to stay with mom throughout the week, as their school is closest to mom’s house. During the weekends and on school holidays, the children will visit their father. As there is a lot to discuss during a mediation session, having an attorney with you is useful.
How is an Agreement Formed?
Unlike a court case, a mediator will not make decisions on behalf of parents. Instead, they will use their family law skills and knowledge to suggest compromises for both parties involved. A resulting agreement will be drawn up, which needs to be signed by both parents. This is a legally binding contract, so you should discuss and review the agreement with an attorney before signing.
Preparing for Child Custody Mediation
Knowing what to expect for child custody mediation can help you be prepared. Below are a few tips that can make the mediation session easier:
- Resolve to stay calm and open-minded: this is about your children, rather than the feelings you harbor towards your ex. Keep them in the forefront of your mind when making any decisions or considering suggestions from the mediator or your attorney.
- Write a draft proposal: having an idea of what could work with everyone’s schedules can make it easier to come to an agreement. Remember to include things like school pick-ups, vacations, travel costs, and the best ways for parents to communicate.
- Get plenty of rest beforehand: child custody mediation is a stressful process, so take care of yourself.
Child custody mediation can be a great solution for solving child custody issues without going to court. It is advised to have an attorney with you during mediation sessions, as they will support and guide you during the process. No matter what has happened between the two of you, child custody mediation should be focused on what is best for the children, so bear this in mind during the process.
Northwest Family Law is here to help advise and support you during child custody mediation. Speak to one of our family law attorneys today, to find a long-term solution that works around the unique needs of your family.
For more legal advice, visit one of our offices at:
- Bellevue – 10900 Northeast 4th St, Suite 2300, Bellevue, WA 98004
- Kirkland – 1207 Market St. Kirkland, WA 98033