Perhaps the sting of the end of your marriage is still sharp. Even so, you and the other parent have children, and a child custody agreement quickly becomes a priority. You know that you need to get this issue worked out in order to provide some security and continuity for your children.
However, you may have a hard time seeing yourself sitting down with your estranged spouse to work out an agreement and create a parenting plan. Regardless, some compelling reasons for mediating your child custody issues may exist.
Why should we give mediation a chance?
Despite your current opinion of your soon-to-be former spouse, you may recognize that the children do love their other parent, and he or she loves them as well. Research shows that keeping both parents in the children's lives provides them with numerous benefits. Other reasons to try child custody mediation could include the following:
- Because mediation requires you and the other parent to compromise, communicate and work together, it could help you forge a new relationship that the two of you can build on following your divorce.
- Unlike going to court, mediation is not adversarial. Even if you sit on opposite sides of the table, you are on the same side -- that is, the children's side. Moreover, the process does not pit you against each other.
- A courtroom battle can cause incredible stress and strain on everyone involved. Mediation could alleviate at least some of that stress, since it can foster a more amicable atmosphere.
- Mediation may keep the focus on the children, which helps many parents separate their feelings from each other and those they have for their children. This could make the situation easier for the children to get through.
- Parents can learn to deal with conflicts and disagreements during mediation.
- Mediation may discard blame for the divorce because it typically focuses on the children and the future instead of the marriage and the past.
Having a neutral third party involved in the process often provides objectivity, alternatives and resolutions you might not consider otherwise.
How would we begin the process?
You need to find a mediator with whom you and the other parent are comfortable. Thereafter, you can discuss your goals for the process. It helps to go into the process with an idea of how you expect the agreement to look when mediation ends. You may also have a legal advocate at your side to help ensure that your rights stay protected and that your final child custody agreement and parenting plan will meet the court's standards for approval.