Child custody matters require preparation whether tried in court or in mediation. Though it’s often a contentious issue, it’s generally best for both parties if openness, patience and compromise are practiced.

Mediation is often a good forum for putting these traits into practice – especially when we are dealing with child custody and visitation issues. However, mediation also needs to be taken seriously as many California courts will give the mediator’s determination as concerns parenting plans a great deal of weight.

Even under less than ideal circumstances mediators can sometimes get parents to come to an agreement. Still, there are certain preparation tips that a parent can take to make the best of mediation including:

  • Knowing what you want from the process from the beginning and even outlining your primary concerns
  • Talking out your concerns to a professional counselor prior to the mediation to help one make a better presentation
  • Speaking to the other parent in advance to resolve certain issues so that everything does not have to be addressed at the mediation

It’s always a plus to be informed about the mediation process. This can include knowing the rules, understanding what documents one can bring to the session and having possible contact information of individuals who may be able to provide guidance to the mediator.

Though expenses regarding divorce mediation are often a concern, it’s generally a less costly process than litigating the divorce. Mediation will also give both parties greater decision-making authority because the couple is in a greater position to work out the details through the help of a mediator rather than wait for the order of a judge.

However, whether a child custody matter is tried through mediation or litigation, the goal is the same – making certain that the best interests of the child are met. This should not be forgotten.

Source: Huffington Post, “Divorce Confidential: Preparing for Child Custody Mediation,” Caroline Choi, May 23, 2014