As an estranged couple going through a divorce, if you have children together, you will be faced with the unpleasant task of working out the matter of child custody. Child custody mediation can pre-empt the need for a messy court battle which often deteriorates into mud slinging and can do more damage to the kids than you would ever imagine. Here are some tips on how to prepare to get the most out of the mediation process.
Do your homework
If you choose to engage the services of a child custody divorce mediation attorney or counselor, you should do your homework. Have in place details on the kids school holidays, exams, major events. Print a copy of your work, business and personal commitments as well.
Meet a counselor before you begin the process
Many divorce attorneys suggest that their clients meet with a counselor well versed with dealing with individuals going through a divorce. A counselor will help you get in touch with your emotions and help you work through the challenges. He or she can also help guide you on how to conduct yourself during child custody mediation as well as in court. This will make the mediation itself a more fruitful exercise. You need to ensure you come across as articulate and reasonable during mediation, but most importantly as someone who is flexible.
Chalk up options for the parenting plan
As part of divorce mediation, you may choose to opt for child custody mediation to work through the details and arrive at a mutually agreeable arrangement. Having a structured parenting plan in place with details on the sharing of time with the children on a day to day basis helps bring perspective. By clarifying how holidays and trips/vacations away will be handled, as well as openly discussing other routine arrangements for the kids, you can come up with a comprehensive solution. This transforms what could be a difficult time into a team effort where you both work to decide what’s best for the kids. At the same time not everything you want will go down well with your soon to be ex. Have a plan B in place and other acceptable solutions which may not be ideal, but are good enough.
Bring an open mind to the discussions
You will want to air your views and ensure your agenda is carried forward, but child custody mediation is as much a time for listening. Listen to what your spouse and the mediator have to say. Understand their perspective and be willing to adjust a little. If you come with preconceived notions and are not open to suggestion, your route to a court battle is all but cast in stone.
Always remember this is about the children and not you
It helps to bring perspective every now and then during a divorce mediation process. And nothing is more sobering than the knowledge that getting into petty squabbles with your husband or wife, and resorting to mudslinging will shatter your children. Remember this and keep your head and humor through the mediation.
Gerald A. Maggio is a trained Orange County divorce mediator who has amicably resolved cases many cases out of court, as well as an experienced divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Maggio founded California Divorce Mediators in 2012 with the belief that although “not every marriage can be saved, every family can” and a mission to save families from the financial and emotional distress associated with traditional divorce litigation. California Divorce Mediators is located in Irvine, California, and serves the Orange County area and other counties in California offering divorce mediation, child custody mediation and mediation of other family law matters.