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Custody & Visitation Law

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Child Custody Mediation

Key Takeaways:

  • Mediation can be faster, less expensive, and more private than going through court.
  • Some family courts require child custody mediation before the judge will hear the dispute.
  • Mediation gives the parents the power to devise their own solution instead of leaving it up to the judge.

Mediation is a popular option for resolving family law issues, like custody of the child. By working with a private mediator, the parents can avoid the more expensive process of going through the courts to get a custody order. Many states require parents to attend meditation before taking their legal custody dispute to court.

Mediation has several benefits in child custody cases but is not for everybody. Child custody rules and family laws are different in every state. It is essential to talk to a child custody lawyer in a city near you for legal advice about the custody process in your case.

What Is Mediation in Child Custody Disputes?

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that resolves disputes outside the courtroom. The court system can be adversarial, which may not be best in family law matters.

In child custody cases, the parents may have to have regular contact with each other and a co-parenting relationship for years to come. Learning how to resolve legal issues without the courts can help avoid more costly interventions in the future.

Child custody mediation services can help the parents work together on a parenting agreement and custody arrangements. Parents can develop their own comprehensive parenting plan to address:

Parents can voluntarily seek out a referral child custody mediation session. The family court can also order mediation.

What Happens in Child Custody Mediation?

In mediation, a neutral third-party trained mediator works with both primary parties. The parties work together to arrive at a custody arrangement that all can agree with, including legal custody and physical custody. This includes talking to each party separately or jointly with all parties together. Mediation allows for more flexibility to meet the unique needs of a particular family.

The mediation process can take as little as a few hours in one session or as long as a few days over several sessions. Success depends on the willingness to communicate openly, compromise, keep an open mind, and work together for the child’s best interests. Mediation also reduces the stress of conflict and keeps parents focused on the best interests of children.

In many states, the family court will require parents first to try to settle child custody issues in mediation. However, court-ordered mediation may not be the best option for all situations. Mediation is not recommended for couples with a history of domestic violence or child abuse. Talk to your child custody attorney if you do not think private mediation will be best for your child.

Custody Mediation in Different States

Child custody disputes can be more complicated when the parents live in different states. Each state has its own child custody laws. In these situations, the mediation program will allow the parents to reach an agreeable resolution without leaving it up to a family court judge. Parents are better positioned to devise a visitation schedule that works with their lives and balances the child’s needs.

Custody Mediation Instead of Litigation

The primary difference between child custody mediation and litigation is that the two parties actually sit down to discuss the matter in person. Family law attorneys litigate legal disputes in court. This means most of the negotiations happen outside the control of the parents.

The cost of family mediation is generally much lower than the cost of courtroom litigation. Mediated agreements can also be much faster. Backed-up family courts can take months to schedule a child custody case.

Another advantage of mediation for many parents is that the process is private and confidential. Court hearings are part of the public record. Many parents prefer to keep their lives and their children’s lives private. The family court enters the final visitation and custody agreement, but the negotiations are confidential in mediation.

Collaborative Child Custody

Collaborative child custody is often seen in collaborative divorce cases and is a developing area of family law where the parties can work together to settle the divorce. This approach is where both parties have agreed to cooperate to find a solution that suits everyone. This may be a good option for couples separating amicably and not those going through a messy divorce. For more information about mediation and collaboration in resolving child custody disputes, talk to an experienced child custody attorney.

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