When you and your significant other decide to get divorced, one of the unfortunate parts of the entire process is fighting for custody. It isn't easy, but many families figure out a way to make it work. Sadly, it takes a lot of compromise, patience and communication to get to that point. Many couples must use a process called mediation in order to get there. In mediation, a neutral third party is brought in to help couples reach a parenting agreement that they can agree on and is in the best interests of the child. When parents still can't decide, the mediator will provide a recommendation to the court, which the court will take into consideration. Due to the importance and seriousness of child custody mediation, here are a few things you can do to prepare before you attend your meeting:
Make a List of Any and All of Your Concerns.
Whether typed or handwritten, make a list of any concerns and fears that you have. Are you worried about your ex-spouse's prior alcohol problem that they never received professional help for? You should also make a list of how your concerns can be reduced. What exactly can they do to calm your fears? In the instance of alcohol abuse, could they attend regular AA meetings?
Take the Time to Prepare Sample Parenting Plans.
Before you head into mediation, you need to know exactly what you're wanting to get out of this. Would you like joint custody or are you seeking sole physical custody? Prepare a few different parenting plans that contain schedules of how your child will spend time with you and/or the other parent. Don't forget to include holidays, vacations, extracurricular activities, etc. Keep in mind that nothing that you create on your own will be permanent and that you won't be able to get everything that you want. However, this is simply a first step to get the conversation started. This is when compromises will need to be made so that the parenting plan not only works well for the both of you, but for your child as well who is the most important piece of the puzzle.
Collect Evidence to Support Your Claims.
If you are concerned with your child being with your ex-spouse due to past physical, alcohol or drug abuse, make sure that you have evidence to support your claims. The same is true if you believe that the constant shuttling from one house to another is causing poor academic performance. The more proof that you can bring to the mediation session, the better off you will be.
Child custody mediation can be very effective. However, it is crucial that you understand one thing: mediation is only going to be as effective as the effort that you and your ex-spouse are willing to put into the whole process. Make sure you are prepared for mediation and know what you will be facing. To help you prepare, consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area.