If a child's parents are divorcing, one of the most important and emotional decisions they will have to make is who will have custody of their child. This is not always an easy decision, especially if both parents wish to have primary custody of the child. Parents in California may assume that their only option when it comes to child custody is to litigate the matter. However, litigation is a lengthy process, which could increase the stress parents and the child feel during this time of uncertainty. Therefore, one option parents may want to consider is child custody mediation.
Through mediation, parents will work with a neutral mediator to settle their child custody and visitation issues. A mediator is not a decision-maker. But, a mediator can facilitate discussions between the parents that allow the parents to talk about their child custody wishes and concerns in a productive manner.
Mediation is private so the parties may feel freer to express their opinions. Moreover, as parents have more control over the result of mediation, they may feel more inclined to make concessions, while still feeling that the final agreement is fair. Finally, mediation usually is not as lengthy as a trial, taking only a few weeks versus months or even years.
Mediation requires parents to communicate with each other, which could set the stage for more positive interactions in the future. This is important, as there will likely be times when parents will need to communicate with one another with regards to raising their child. For example, parents may need to communicate with one another regarding custody exchanges or any deviations that may need to be made from their parenting plan. It is important that when devising a parenting plan and following it, that parents do so with the best interests of the child in mind.
When mediation is successful and an agreement is reached, both parents will usually feel satisfied with the outcome, since they were able to have a say in it. Not only is this good for the parents, but it is also good for the child. Divorce can be a stressful time, and there will be issues that parents cannot see eye-to-eye on. With the help of a mediator though, parents can discuss their disagreements in a productive matter and may be able to reach an agreement that they feel is fair.