Pros And Cons Of Using A Mediator For Child Custody Agreements

Divorce is never pretty, but it doesn’t have to be a rolling battle or non-stop expenses. Using a mediator is one option that’s open to any divorcing couple. Mediators can help streamline the process; they act as neutral third parties that guide the conversation around divorce agreements. Divorcing couples can decide whether to use mediating exclusively, or to use it as a preliminary means of reaching agreements wherever possible before deciding the rest in court.

Advantages to using a mediator

In child custody cases, the mediator may be able to keep tensions to a minimum while helping devise a solution that’s best for the child or children. Most importantly, mediators can persistently steer the conversation to the child’s welfare and best interests, and away from the emotional charge over missed time with kids or how one parent feels about the other’s parenting style. Agreements are also likely to be more flexible than court-decided schedules.

Mediators can be used with or without a lawyer. If you’re aware of your rights and feel comfortable going without a lawyer, then you can save a lot of money if a mutual agreement can keep the case out of court. Money saved is money still in the household for your kids’ schooling, medical and dental bills, and other essential needs.

Family courts are often overbooked, so they have an extensive waiting list of people waiting to appear before a judge. Instead of waiting months for a court date where a judge may make a decision that no one likes, mediation lets divorcing people explore common ground to try to reach a solution that works for everyone. For the kids stuck in the middle, expediting the decision process means that they live less time in uncertainty and can start adjusting to their “new normal” as soon as possible.

Mediator drawbacks

Your mediator does not have the power of the court; he or she is merely a guide through the conversation, and may offer potential solutions that benefit everyone. In cases where one parent refuses to negotiate, mediation accomplishes nothing. In addition, concerns over child safety with potentially dangerous parents, living conditions, and other considerations can only be addressed and ruled on by a judge.

Mediators try to foster a controlled, calm atmosphere for all meetings, but they can’t prevent every negative occurrence. People who are concerned about violent outbursts, emotional manipulation or other such behavior from their soon-to-be-ex may decide against repeatedly being in the same room with him or her. When in doubt, always bring your lawyer.

While mediation isn’t the right choice for everyone, it has worked surprisingly well in a large percentage of divorces, even those that are extremely contentious. Child custody is a difficult subject to address, but talking about it in front of a mediator is more likely to produce good, healthy results for your kids.

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