When facing a separation or divorce, the welfare of any children involved typically remains a top priority for both spouses. Additionally, this remains a top priority for the courts as well.
Navigating a divorce or separation is already a challenging experience. Whether facing an uncontested or contested divorce, issues pertaining to parenting arrangements, child or spousal support, and the division of assets or debt, are all areas that will need to be addressed.
The reality is, oftentimes in this process, separating couples are not always able to see eye to eye and have disagreements regarding the best course of action. If these differing views remain unresolved, divorcing spouses may face lengthy and expensive litigation should the process be drawn out in court.
Mediation offers an alternative by introducing a neutral third-party (e.g. a family lawyer), who sits down with each spouse individually and then eventually, together, with the goal of resolving conflict and coming to a mutual understanding and agreement.
Once both spouses have come to an agreement, a family law mediator is able to draft these into formal documents that will be submitted to the court and outline the terms of the divorce.
What is mediation for child custody?
This form of mediation is essentially no different than other forms of mediation. The most notable distinction is that the focus of child custody mediation remains exactly that: for both parents to focus solely on the best interests of any children involved and come to a mutual agreement.
In addition to this, children may also be allowed to participate in mediation, which can help them express their feelings, be part of the decision-making process, and help shape the parenting arrangements and agreements that are in discussion.
Quite often, the majority of divorcing spouses are able to resolve their issues and come to a mutual agreement through mediation. It is often the preferred method for many due to its ability to avoid expensive litigation fees and relatively high success rate.
How should child custody mediation be approached?
When preparing for child custody mediation, it’s important to be mindful of a few things going in, which can help foster a smooth and productive experience. Remember the primary goal of child custody mediation, which is to come to an agreement on parenting arrangements that are in the best interests of the children involved. As you prepare for mediation, keep the following in mind.
Be open and willing to listen
Agreements are far easier to reach when both parties can engage in respectful and open discussion. Allowing one another to speak and truly listening to what they have to say, can help facilitate cooperation among both parents.
As you approach your mediation date, it is generally a good idea to come somewhat prepared beforehand. This usually entails things like brainstorming solutions you might propose during the session or thinking ahead of time the extent to which you are willing to compromise for your children’s sake. Imagining some of the points your spouse may discuss can also help you to prepare a response beforehand. This type of planning can progress mediation forward in a productive way.
Stay focused on the children involved
Remember that child custody mediation is not the place or time to focus on either parent and rehashing marital problems. It should solely revolve around coming to a parenting arrangement that is in the best interest of the involved children. Communicate your concerns about your child’s needs and your perception of what is best for them. Avoid character assassinations out of a heated moment and remain focused on the objective at hand. Mediation breaks down when emotions get the better of someone and take away from the objective at hand.
Child custody mediation can bring an influx of emotions to the table and at times, certain moments may feel tense. The ability to remain calm and cooperative can be encouraged by attempting to create ‘lighter’ moments during the process, such as by using humour, a compliment, or acknowledging your former spouse in a positive way. This can help create a favourable atmosphere that fosters cooperation and unity, with the common goal of creating the best parenting arrangement for the children involved.
Are you wondering if child custody mediation is right for you? Only those practicing family law have the nuanced expertise and experience to provide insights that may otherwise be overlooked. Reach out to our team of expert family lawyers who can help provide child custody meditation in a safe, beneficial, and productive manner.