While divorce is never easy, it can become even more complicated when there are children involved. Obviously, you want a custody arrangement that adequately meets your child’s needs, but you must also bear in mind your own interests and those of your ex-spouse. It can be a difficult balancing act that can result in disputes and conflict, which are not healthy for anyone, particularly your children.
Unlike some states, Pennsylvania does not require you and your spouse to resolve child custody disputes through mediation. However, you can voluntarily choose to mediate a child custody agreement. Mediation has the potential to benefit you and your ex as parents as well as your children.
Benefits of mediation for parents
Mediation is a cooperative process. With the help of a neutral third party who acts as a mediator, you and your ex come together to create a plan that works for your entire family. The mediator does not play a decision-making role. Rather, his or her part in the process is to look at the dispute from an objective perspective and help keep the deliberations focused on what is good for your child.
While there is a cost involved in mediation, it is usually much less than that of a court battle. Part of the reason is that mediation usually takes less time than litigation would. When you go to court over child custody disputes, a judge makes the final decision. In mediation, you and your co-parent have the deciding power. As a result, couples who choose mediation often report more satisfaction with the result.
Benefits of mediation for children
Research has shown that contention between parents can hurt children. The cooperative nature of the mediation process can help to decrease hostility between you and your ex-spouse. This can reduce the stress on your child that can result in loyalty conflicts and other adverse psychological consequences of feeling trapped between two warring parents.
While mediation is not right for every situation, it typically has a high rate of success. Resolving child custody disputes through mediation results in a settlement about 60% to 70% of the time.