Child custody battles can be a difficult thing to deal with as a parent, and as a child. This part of the custody process is important for several reasons, and you must keep in mind that the arrangement you are trying to achieve is to create a healthy environment for your child.
Mediation is an important part of the process because a judge is not present. Preparing for mediation can bring results that work in your favor and can have a major influence of the outcome of your custody case. Taking the time to prepare for mediation will allow you to gather evidence, outline your issues, and to set your objectives.
Arriving to a child custody mediation with only the statement of “I want custody” is not enough to get it. You must be able to explain why you want it, why it is good for the child, and why you are a good fit for the child.
Several factors that come into play when determining if this is the best for the child could be whether or not the other parents is living with an abusive boyfriend or girlfriend, whether the child has special needs that are not being met, drug or alcohol issues with the other parent, and mental health issues with the other parent.
While these are only a handful of factors that can be taken into consideration during mediation, outlining any of these issues and bringing documentation will help the mediator to facilitate a more thorough discussion about the effect of these things on the child’s living situation.
Preparing for Child Custody Mediation
There are several things that you need to keep in mind when you are preparing for child custody mediation.
Enter mediation making every effort to come to an agreement with the other parent.
It is to your advantage to resolve a custody dispute during mediation. This will ensure the most favorable outcome on your own, without a judge intervening. You may not be happy with the judge’s input, so mediation gives you the most control over the arrangements moving forward.
Be clear about what you want, and why you want it.
The worst thing that could happen would be for you to get what you are asking for, and then realizing that it does not work for your family. There are three main custody arrangements: sole, joint, and split. Each arrangement comes with it’s own set of pros and cons, and it is important to speak with your attorney to find what works best for you and your family. A successful arrangement has the opportunity for flexibility, as well as the opportunity to make changes in the future. Now is the time to think carefully about what you want, instead of getting into something that you haven’t fully thought through and considered the possible outcomes of.
Understand what it means to have sole custody.
Providing sole custody of your child offers you the benefits of making all major life decisions and minimizes the interaction with your spouse, but it also means that you must be emotionally and financially prepared for this. It will be your entire responsibility to care for your child day in and day out, which can be overwhelming and exhausting. Sole custody cases have the highest instances of ending up back in court due to these potentially negative effects.
Remember what the court’s goal is.
There are three major things that the courts take into consideration when determining the best fit for a child:
1) A parent who wants his or her spouse to be a part of their child’s life
2) A parent who is nurturing, confident, and composed, and wants what is best for the child
3)Genuine interaction with counselors and a child who has not been coached to give “correct” answers that benefit one parent
You may not agree with a judge who makes a determination about these factors, so using mediation as a tool to make sure these needs are met is of the utmost importance.
Be prepared to negotiate.
Your willingness to negotiate will create an environment conducive to getting a result you want. Mediation allows for the opportunity to get an outcome closer to one that you would get in court. You must be sensitive to your child’s needs, understand your spouse’s point of view and concerns, and focus on common interests. This can be very difficult to do during an emotional divorce or child custody battle, but having an attorney on your side to help you maintain a level head and make healthy decisions will allow you to reach an outcome that you are happy with.
Respect the other parent’s right to be a parent.
Although things may not be positive in your relationship with your child’s other parent, you must remember to take into consideration the contributions that they have made to be a good parent. In the long term, it is best for the child that their parents get along, and are agreeable in how to raise them.
Your parenting styles may differ, but remembering that the ultimate goal is to raise a healthy and happy child will make everything easier. You may have one way of looking at things, and the other parent another way, and that is ok. If your child is not in real and actual danger, it is best to leave your differences at the door and recognize how important the other parent is to your child, and honor that by working with them.
Recognize that going to court is a much more emotionally taxing option.
There is a price to pay when it comes to the emotional involvement of going through a court case. The other parent’s attorney will spend their time fighting to make you look bad, and everything you have ever done wrong will be presented in the worst possible context. This is emotionally draining, and can be a very upsetting experience.
Common Concerns about Child Custody Mediation
My relationship with my ex is so bad, I don’t think that mediation will work.
Mediation can be done separately. The mediator can go back and forth between the parties to work on an agreement. Keep in mind, it is the mediator’s job to do this everyday, so they will be able to work through the situation. They will also make sure that both parents recognize the importance of putting aside personal issues for the sake of the child, and to focus on the issue at hand: what is best for the child.
Do I need a lawyer for mediation?
It is always recommended to consult with an attorney when dealing with legal matters, especially when involving the future of your child’s life. At Seff & Capizzi we can help you to understand how the law applies to your case, help you to make informed decisions, and complete the legal procedures necessary to protect your interests.
What if we cannot agree on all of the issues?
Most mediations end with some sort of agreement in place, whether full or partial. Even a partial agreement helps to narrow the issues and reduces the remaining time needed to come to a final conclusion regarding your child custody agreement.
Keep in mind that what you want is what is best for your children, and you can work with your attorney to make mediation work for you. There are many advantages to using this part of the child custody process to create the ultimate goal: a healthy, happy, and loving living arrangement for your child.
At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we value the opportunity to serve you and your children. We can help you to determine the best course of action for your family today, and work with you to create the results you desire through child custody mediation. Call us today at (954) 920-9220 to discuss your custody case today.