Here’s Why You Should Consider Child Custody Mediation
One of the biggest mistakes parents make regarding child custody is dismissing the idea of mediation out of hand and opting to go straight to trial. In the vast majority of divorce cases, going to trial is the worst possible option. Putting the fate of a child’s upbringing in the hands of the courts is a crapshoot, at best.
Furthermore, if mediation fails, going to court is still an option. There’s no reason not to try mediation instead of going straight to court.
How Child Custody Mediation Works
In many ways, child custody mediation is very similar to divorce mediation. The goal of mediation is to facilitate a productive conversation in which both parents work together to find a custody arrangement that works for them and their children.
The job of the mediator, who is a neutral third party, is to help settle arguments and suggest possible solutions when conflict arises. During the mediation, each parent may also bring their respective divorce attorney to help evaluate and provide guidance during the process.
The most crucial aspect of child custody mediation is that it allows each side to continue negotiating until they are both satisfied with the outcome. This is a key difference from the litigation process, in that once a judge renders a verdict, that’s it. If either or both parents are unhappy with the judge’s decision… too bad.
Mediation vs Litigation
There are several benefits of pursuing child custody mediation instead of litigation. First, and most importantly, is that mediation keeps both parents in 100% control of the outcome. Going to court puts custody in the hands of a judge, who will almost certainly have some bias in the case no matter how neutral they try to be.
Other benefits of mediation include:
- It’s faster than litigation
- It’s typically less expensive than the litigation process
- Mediation encourages negotiation rather than conflict
- Mediation is more private than litigation
- Parents are in control of their own parenting plan
- Both parties are free to find creative, personalized solutions
The only real caveat to child custody mediation is that both parents must be willing participants. If either parent refuses to participate and/or make a goodwill effort to find a solution, the process won’t work.
Having An Attorney Is Still Important
For parents that do decide to try child custody mediation, keep in mind that it’s still important to retain the services of an experienced divorce and family law attorney. Not only can a lawyer help make arrangements for the mediation itself, but by being present at the meetings, they will help protect a parent’s interests and act as a guide through the process.
At Vonder Haar Law, we have extensive experience helping parents and spouses go through the mediation process. To learn more about how we can help you, please contact our office today.
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