25 Mar The Use Of Mediation in Child Custody Cases
Divorce cases are typically lengthy and may seem to drag out over a long period of time. This is especially true when the parties are not amicable, have children and have a lot of assets to divide. In addition, child custody cases are one of the most common reasons that cases are tied up in court. The transition can be a difficult one for all parties, especially children. A great alternative to divorce litigation is to use a family law mediator to help the parties discover a mutually agreeable solution for divorce, specifically child custody issues.
Mediation can be court-connected, or there are private family law mediators one can seek out. A family law mediator is knowledgeable about family law and has exceptional interpersonal and negotiation skills however, they are not a judge and don’t make decisions for you. Instead, they work with you and the other party to develop an action plan. Mediators are professional and neutral parties that work diligently to settle disputes and reach agreements in record time. In fact, most competent family law mediators can help parties complete agreements within a matter of weeks. In contrast, the divorce litigation process can take months or even years, depending on the complexity of the legal case.
Once a mediator is identified, you will begin the mediation process. During the mediation process, parents work with a to create a mutually agreeable marital settlement agreement and/or parenting plan. When creating a parenting plan, the details can vary greatly but, they typically specify what time a child will have with a particular parent, school and religion choices, how vacations and holidays will be mapped out, etc. Many troubles are avoided by utilizing the mediation process and can be less emotional damaging to the child. A mediator will help parents brainstorm options, handle any conflicts and create a plan that adequately meets everyone’s needs, especially the child.
Mediation is not a forum for parental personal conflict or arguing over marital problems. It is a time to focus on the future of the family and to fulfill the needs and requirements of the new arrangement to decrease impact on any children involved, and to have the flexibility to communicate. In a court case, divorce lawyers litigate on behalf of each parties and a judge typically decides parental rights, divisions of assets, etc. Thus, mediation seems to be an excellent choice, as it provides much-needed routine, structure, and balance to an otherwise confusing and difficult situation. By engaging in mediation, parents are able to put their differences aside and focus on the needs of their child.