Benefits of Mediation for Child Custody Decisions
Mediation for child custody determination allows parents to agree on their children’s care and well-being with the help of a neutral third party. Disputes and litigation about child custody can be lengthy, overwhelming, and difficult for children and parents. Mediation is an alternative way to handle child custody. Child custody can be mediated as part of divorce mediation, or it can be done separately. Couples who divorce through litigation can still negotiate a custody agreement through mediation.
In California, mediation attendance is required for child custody and only goes to court if an agreement can’t be reached. Mediation is not always the right option for every couple who is separating. However, there are several benefits to mediation.
More Control Over the Final Order
Parents have little say in the final custody order when child custody goes to court. The judge will decide based on the information presented in the trial. Every family has unique circumstances; parents will know their family much better than a judge. You will have to follow a judge’s final court order, even if you disagree with it.
When you handle your child custody through mediation, you and your co-parent can discuss visitation, custody, living arrangements, medical care, educational requirements, holidays, vacations, and other essential aspects. A mediator will help you work through disagreements to find a reasonable compromise. A judge will review the order to ensure it’s legal and fair, then sign off on the agreement you made.
A child custody case conducted in court is a matter of public record. Personal information can come up during a court case, which can be upsetting. A judge may also request that your child or children speak their wishes in court, which can overwhelm them.
Mediation is much more confidential. It will also keep children away from court and likely won’t need them involved at all. Mediators work to understand both parties’ needs and wishes. You and your co-parent have room to discuss and deal with discussions and issues that you wouldn’t be able to in litigation.
Better For Children
Litigation creates lots of stress for parents and their kids. Mediation is better for a child’s mental and emotional well-being and limits parental conflict. Litigation and mediation are both meant to focus on the child’s interests; however, litigation also addresses parental conflict. Mediation helps parents work towards a collaborative solution.
Better Parental Relationship
This emphasis on a collaborative solution also prepares parents for co-parenting. The goal of mediation is to limit hostility in favor of a foundation of effective communication and cooperation. Even though parents are separated, they will still be in each other’s lives to care for their children. Mediation helps parents feel more confident about this arrangement, leading to more successful child custody orders.
Saves You Money and Time
Mediation is more cost-effective and less time-consuming. Litigation can take months to schedule, and the process can be long and drawn out. Mediation is easier to schedule and is often resolved more quickly. Litigation is also expensive. Each parent will need to hire an attorney, and a lengthy court case means you’re paying for more hours of representation. One family law mediation attorney can handle mediation, taking significantly less time and, therefore, fewer resources.
The time you save in mediation can lessen stress, and saving money allows you to provide more for your children.
It’s recommended that a judge sign off on your custody agreement, though it is not required. Mediation’s goal is to avoid court and litigation, but filing a custody agreement with the court is essential to ensuring both parents agree. Additionally, you want to ensure you can enforce the agreement if one parent fails to hold up their terms in a child custody agreement.
Q: Does a California Judge Always Agree With the Mediator?
A: It’s common for a mediator to provide recommendations to the judge if mediation fails and a divorce or child custody case needs to enter litigation. A judge may not always follow these recommendations but often will. There are some situations where a meditator cannot give a recommendation, so mediation has no impact on the outcome of litigation.
Q: How Do I Win Custody Mediation in California?
A: The goal of mediation is not for one party to win and the other to lose but for both parties to cooperate in their child’s interests. The custody agreement will likely need to be decided in court if one party enters the mediation with the goal of beating their co-parent in mediation. Both parents should work together to find compromises and collaborative solutions to issues presented to get a good outcome from child custody mediation.
Q: How Much Is Mediation for Child Custody in California?
A: Mediation often costs several thousand dollars, which is significantly less than litigation. The cost will depend on how many issues need to be resolved in your child custody determinations and how willing each parent is to find a solution. The longer it takes to find a resolution to issues, the more expensive mediation is. The more complex your child custody circumstances, the more expensive they will be.
Q: Does the Mediator Decide Who Wins and Who Loses in a Child Custody Mediation?
A: In mediation, there is no winning or losing party. The mediator’s job is to help both parties reach a compromise with each other. In child custody mediation, it’s up to the parents to make a final agreement for a custody order. The mediator guides them to collaboration and determines whether mediation is possible in a family’s situation.
Finding the Right Mediation Attorneys With Bickford, Blado & Botros
Determinations of separation, support, or custody agreements are important to your family’s future, and you want to ensure they are done right. At Bickford, Blado & Botros, we aim to understand both parties’ interests and needs and work to find a solution from a neutral position that limits the stress on you and your family. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.
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