One of the hardest-fought battles during divorce is over child custody. Both parents usually want to be part of their children’s lives. However, it can be difficult for them to come to an agreement together. Fortunately, you do not have to handle this job on your own. Many couples who are divorcing and unable to resolve child custody issues turn to a neutral third party known as a mediator. This neutral individual can give parents the chance to create a child custody plan that suits both without the need for the court to make the decision.
How to Prepare for Mediation
Before you begin mediation, there are several important steps you should take, including:
- Get sound legal advice from your attorney so you understand the legal pitfalls to avoid as well as which legal interests you need to protect in a custody agreement
- Write out a daily schedule for yourself and your child
- Prepare a written custody and visitation proposal
- Gather relevant records about your child, such as letters from your child’s therapist
When you are preparing your custody proposal, be sure to think of special circumstances like holidays and birthdays as well as create a plan for transportation and exchange locations.
The Child Custody Mediation Process
The mediation process involves several steps, including:
- The initial meeting with the mediator
- Identifying and categorizing any issues
- Discussing possible solutions with a give-and-take attitude
- Preparing the final custody agreement
The mediation process can be long or short, depending on the couple and situation. How long the process takes depends on several factors like the number of custody issues that need to be resolved, the complexity of the issues and, of course, both parents’ willingness to reach a suitable agreement. It is important to remember that the mediator is not there to take sides. Instead, the mediator is a neutral party who helps both sides have a voice. The mediator will thoroughly explain the process to you and work much like a counselor to ensure both sides are fairly heard. Keep in mind that any issues not settled in the mediation process will have to be settled by the court.
Should I Involve My Attorney?
It is important to involve your attorney in all aspects of your divorce and child custody arrangement. Keep in mind that your attorney cannot attend the mediation. However, he or she can answer questions about the process and ensure you understand any legal pit-falls or issues beforehand and after. The team at Men’s Legal Center is here to help with this process. Give us a call today and we can ensure your rights are exercised throughout the entire divorce process.