Who Should Use Child Custody Mediation?

Posted on: 2 February 2023

Mediation is an alternative process to resolving disputes and ironing out agreements. As with many legal matters, mediation may be possible in a child custody case. Here is why this approach might be appealing, what child custody mediation is, and how can you tell if it might be right for your situation.

Why Mediation? 

Two parents are likely to have some conflicts regarding child custody arrangements at the end of a relationship. Notably, these don't have to be big issues to create legal problems. Even if the two parents are open to a non-contentious solution, they still should set up an agreement in writing to avoid potential problems down the road.

You could solve these issues by going to court. However, that takes time and costs money. Also, there's a good chance that a judge will order the two parties to try to resolve their differences in a conference with an officer of the family court, anyhow. In other words, it basically is mediation by a different name. Also, it comes with more fees and could potentially anger a judge.

What Is Mediation?

A mediator is someone with a legal background who volunteers to collect the agreements and disagreements between the two parties. They then compile the areas of agreement as quickly as possible to get those issues out of the way so the two sides can then hash out their differences. The mediator will judge how far apart the sides are on certain issues and propose ways they might close the gap.

Suppose one of the parents works for long periods in the field. Many people who do business in other states or work in resource extraction industries make their living this way. The two sides may need to mediate how they're going to handle time with the child while the parent who works away is back home. If the parent works two weeks on and one week off, for example, the mediator might propose an arrangement where the parent makes up the two lost weeks with more time when they're available.

Who Should Use Mediation?

Child custody mediation usually works best for parents who aren't fighting over major issues. The mediator works for both sides' interests, and that can save money compared to each side hiring a lawyer. Folks with more contentious concerns, such as whether one parent should have even partial custody, probably need to go to court. Mediation is attractive if you have to iron out details but can't resolve some differences.