Child custody mediation is a process in which parents work together with the help of a neutral third-party mediator to develop a parenting plan to raise and share time with their children after divorce. The focus of custody mediation is to create a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children
Parents who mediate custody find that as a result of the techniques learned in mediation, they are able to more effectively co-parent with each other after divorce. In fact, in many states, court-ordered mediation is mandatory before parents can litigate custody issues. Even the courts themselves recognize that parents, not judges, are in the best position to make custody decisions that work for their family.
Here are 5 of the biggest benefits of mediating child custody:
1. You are in control of the outcome.
In mediation, you and your spouse decide, among other issues, where your children should live, how much time you spend with your children, holiday and vacation schedules and who makes major decisions regarding your children’s medical and educational needs. In litigation, a judge who knows very little about your individual family circumstances ultimately decides these very personal matters. The truth is that no one knows better than you what will work best for your family and mediation allows you to make the final decision regarding these issues.
2. Mediating custody is better for the children’s emotional well-being.
Mediation teaches you how to focus on the children and has been continually proven to be a better way of resolving custody than litigation. Mediation minimizes stress and conflict and prevents the children from getting caught in the middle of the divorce. Children benefit from seeing that their parents can still cooperate, communicate and respect each other even though they may be getting divorced. Custody battles can be devastating to the children involved. Meditation is collaborative, not adversarial and will keep you focused on the children instead of on the marital conflict. Litigating custody pits one side against one another and can create unnecessary conflict. Mediation encourages you and your spouse to work together to come up with an agreement that will effectuate the children’s best interests.
3. Mediated custody agreements are more likely to be successfully followed.
Unlike with in traditional litigation, most people who use mediation feel satisfied with the process itself. In mediation, there are no winners or losers, meaning both parents can focus more on their common goals rather than besting each other. Mediation allows both parents to feel like involved and invested in the process and accordingly more satisfied with the outcome. When parents cooperate during mediation, mutually make decisions and come up with a parenting plan that they both feel good about, they are more likely to follow through with that plan. This minimizes the potential for future conflict.
4. Mediation teaches skills that will make you a better co-parent after the divorce.
Mediation builds a strong foundation for positive co-parenting and helps to set the tone for future cooperation, collaboration and negotiation even after the divorce is final. The reality is that when children are involved, a divorcing couple will be part of each other’s lives for the rest of their lives, whether they like it or not. It is healthier for everyone involved to learn to positively co-parent in order for the children to thrive. Mediation teaches you to effectively communicate with each other, listen, be flexible, pragmatic and put aside your differences for the benefit of the children. In fact, when parents are successful in reaching an agreement in mediation that they feel good about, they generally feel more encouraged about their abilities co-parent effectively even after the divorce is final.
5. Finally, mediation will save you money that you can then spend on your children.
The average cost of mediating custody ranges from $3,000-$5,000 compared to tens of thousands of dollars for litigation. Wouldn’t you rather keep that money in your children’s college funds instead of paying it to an attorney to argue over extra-curricular activities or which day camp to choose? Mediation is by far the most financially and emotionally cost effective option for resolving issues related to child custody.