It’s important to understand that child custody mediation is a legal tool at your disposal, and one that can help you and your ex-partner come to a resolution concerning custody that is most beneficial for any children involved in a divorce. However, you can’t afford to treat the process lightly just because it doesn’t take place in an actual court. This is a supplemental service designed to help parents and guardians resolve their differences and to help the court determine where children should be placed. If you don’t take your mediation seriously, you misbehave, or you arrive unprepared, it will have an impact on your custody case. So here are a few helpful tips that will ensure you’re prepared when you walk into child custody mediation.
- Hire a qualified lawyer. You’ll want to find a lawyer that is experienced with child custody cases before you enter into mediation. For one thing, you need to know what to expect throughout the process and your lawyer can advise you and help you to prepare. And you also need to know what to ask for and how to negotiate for more. Just make sure you and your lawyer are on the same page so that he/she doesn’t request visitation or joint custody when what you want is full custody, for example.
- Know what you want. Going into the mediation process, you need to know up front what type of custody you’re seeking. At the outset you might want joint custody because you think that your children deserve equal time with both parents. But you can’t backtrack later and ask for full custody (for whatever reason) without your initial request bearing consideration. Whether the proceedings turn ugly, feelings get hurt, and you reverse your position as a result or there is valid evidence showing a potentially harmful situation for your kids should they reside with your ex-partner part of the time, you cannot undo your initial custody request, so keep that in mind before you ask for a certain type of custody.
- Gather evidence. If you’re seeking full custody, you not only have to prove that you’re a good parent, but also that your ex-partner is unfit to care for your children. And this may be more difficult than you imagine. You will therefore have to gather evidence to support your position, which could mean keeping a journal of offenses, arranging for witness testimony, and even providing photos or audio or video recordings, police reports, and any information you can acquire pertaining to the other parent being reported to child protective services, just for example.
- Keep your emotions in check. The thought of having to share your kids, or worse, give them up completely, is understandably emotional, and you’ve likely already reached your emotional limit thanks to the stresses of divorce proceedings. But you can’t let it get the better of you. If you act like a basket-case during child custody mediation it could influence what the mediator reports to the judge and harm your chances of getting whatever form of custody you’re seeking. So try to remain calm and respectful throughout the proceedings and you will show the mediator that you’re a responsible adult and suitable caregiver for your children.
- Remember whose side the mediator is on. Trying to pander to the sympathies of your mediator is not going to win you any points. This professional has only one goal in mind in a child custody case: the best interests of your children. So when you hire a qualified attorney from Widrig Law PLLC, make sure you follow the advice you’re given and do your best to make a good impression.