Going through a divorce often brings out the worst in people. Former spouses accuse each other of dishonesty and rehash old arguments. When children are involved, things can get particularly heated. You and your soon-to-be ex love your children, so you each want to spend as much time with them as possible. This can lead to conflict.
Even if you and your former partner disagree about custody, that does not mean a nasty court case is inevitable. There are alternative dispute resolutions, like child custody mediation.
What is mediation?
A mediator is a neutral third party who meets with you and your ex to help you settle child custody matters. Sometimes, mediators are also attorneys, but the key is the mediator is representing neither side. He or she is helping you focus on the best interests of your children and is there to facilitate discussion and compromise.
What can you expect from a session?
Mediation sessions typically last a couple hours and may go for a few weeks. The mediator asks you to introduce yourselves, give the details of your story and then lay out what you are hoping to get from mediation. You and your former partner will list key decisions that need to be made.
The mediator then facilitates the discussion between you and your ex. He or she will encourage you and your former partner to work together to make decisions about what is best for your children. This typically includes a parenting plan that settles the issues of custody, support and any other concerns. If you start to argue, the mediator may help you work through the conflict or may redirect your conversation back to the matter at hand. If you need advice on an issue, the parties may agree to bring in an expert like an accountant or child psychologist or any other third party they agree may be helpful to them.
Mediator helps you focus on the future
Mediation puts the focus on the present and the future, rather than getting stuck in your past problems. It also encourages you and your ex to figure out how to communicate effectively. As you continue to co-parent, this will be a useful skill.
Mediation can reduce stress
A mediation typically moves much quicker than a court case. That means it also usually costs much less.
The sooner the parties can agree on a parenting plan, the better it is for everyone involved. When you are unsure of what the future will hold, you are more likely to be stressed. Even if you try to protect them, your children will likely pick up on this stress.
Resolving custody with mediation can save you money, help reduce conflict and stress and teach you and your ex how to communicate effectively. Though it may not be for everyone, it can be a positive solution to a stressful situation. Additionally, it is a process that can be utilized in the future, as parenting plans need to be revisited as children grow.