Child custody conflicts are among the most stressful and potentially damaging aspects of a divorce for everyone involved – but is there an alternative? For some the answer may be yes, and can help save peace of mind, psychological well-being, and financial costs.
Rather than battle in court over the type of custody agreement for the children, mediation can be an option that offers a less contentious alternative for many parents. Since the goal of most divorcing parents is the child’s happiness and stability, this can be one way to resolve issues productively during what is an already difficult life event.
The Typical Child Custody Process
Typical child custody cases involve going to court with an attorney as part of the divorce proceedings. The judge will determine the type of custody awarded – whether joint custody or sole custody – and the arrangements for the child’s residence and visitation times.
For parents who are divorcing, resolving these issues in a court of law can be fraught with tension and anxiety. Court costs, attorney fees, and time spent negotiating or battling over the agreement can all add up financially and emotionally.
Yet mediation is an alternative solution that allows both parties to meet with a neutral arbiter to work out the best arrangement with input from both parties. Unless one of the parties is alleging domestic violence or other serious legal violations, making court involvement necessary, this can be something that even a contentious divorcing couple can successfully navigate.
The Mediation Process
I meet with both parents and begins with the idea that this will be a collaborative process. Both parents’ input is part of the discussion and it focuses on positive solutions rather than placing blame or revisiting divorce conflicts.
I, much like family counselors, am trained to work with both parties to facilitate communication. The goal of communication is both short-term and long-term: to first develop an agreed upon custody arrangements that will work successfully for parents and children, and to ideally promote future communication between the parties around parenting issues going into the future.
Because I do not have anything to gain from the outcome, I can be a dispassionate and productive factor in resolving disputes. Children will benefit from less conflict, and in some cases can meet with me as well.
Mediation offers a positive solution for children during a divorce assisting parents in promoting better methods of communication which will be key in moving forward and working together as parents for the child’s best interests long after the divorce.