Mediation can occur at any time during a custody case. Sometimes a judge might order mediation early in the divorce proceedings, while other times, mediation might be ordered right before the trial. At the mediation meeting, a trained child custody mediator will serve as an objective third-party to help you and your ex come to an agreement about child custody arrangements. To help the two spouses resolve their dispute, the mediator will do the following things:
- Determine which of your disputes need to be resolved
- Explain the local laws about your dispute with you and your spouse
- Talk about what will happen in court
- Offer up potential resolutions for your dispute
- Create a custody agreement that includes a parenting plan or visitation schedule
It is important to note that although the mediator will discuss your dispute with you and your spouse, they cannot provide you with any legal advice.
The goal of mediation is to resolve every custody issue that is related to your case. The things that don’t get resolved in mediation will need to be addressed at trial. This is why it is important to work with your former spouse to reach a fair custody arrangement. Although your mediator will help guide you, you should still come prepared to talk about the following things:
- The location where your children will live
- Each spouse’s plans regarding remarriage
- Custody changes if a parent decides to relocate
- Holiday visitation schedules
- Child support & health insurance
- Disciplining your children
- Religious or spiritual upbringing
- Child care arrangements
- Education for your child
- The child’s extracurricular activities
- Unique medical or educational needs, if applicable
Preparing in advance for your mediation meeting will help you reach an agreement with your spouse more quickly.
The parenting schedule is the most detailed aspect of your custody agreement. Parenting schedules have to include a weekly schedule for visits and also needs to detail who the custodial parent will be. The schedule can also include rules and locations for exchanging the child.
Holidays and vacations are another important part of any parenting arrangement. Some states have statutory recommendations for holiday visits, but you can choose to make your own schedule to accommodate the particular needs of your family.
Mediation gives you the chance to alter your agreement in ways that can’t be done if your case goes to trial. A mediator can consider the details of your particular case in ways that a family court judge can’t. Family courts lack the time and resources to devote the same type of attention to your case that a mediator can.
Do you need help reaching a child custody agreement with your ex? Contact our Bowling Green divorce attorney to schedule your case evaluation today.