Divorce is never easy or simple. When two people separate the legally binding agreement of marriage, various components are to be navigated between the couple, such as money, real estate, automobiles, pets and living situations.
No aspect of divorce is more important than a child custody agreement. The safety and well-being of the children are of paramount importance. During a divorce, a mediator helps the parents arrive at the best possible scenario for the children while facilitating clear communication. The ultimate goal is a mutually agreeable arrangement.
Let’s look further into the role of a mediator when creating a child custody agreement.
Benefits of Mediation
Depending on your situation, seeing a mediator may not be your first consideration, but it may be the preferred route in coming to a child custody agreement. In the courts, a judge or arbitrator makes the decisions, whereas a mediator helps guide the parties in arriving at an agreement.
Working with a mediator is often a more gentle approach. You may think of it as a counseling session where the mediator leads the parties through a multitude of issues, such as legal custody, physical custody, holidays and vacation, travel costs and preferred methods of communication. Each person is allowed to voice their concerns and wishes. The mediator is neutral, not showing partiality to one side. A successful mediation results in a written settlement agreement for the two parties.
Given that matters with children are often the most emotional and challenging parts of a divorce, mediation is a welcomed option that is seen as less painful and more communicative.
Mediation is also considered more cost-effective and time-efficient than going the traditional court route.
While mediation is often done with both parents in the room, if a relationship is in very bad shape, a mediator can work with each person individually, going back and forth to guide the parties towards an agreement.
Different Types of Mediation
Child custody mediation can be private or court-ordered. Private child custody mediation is voluntary on the parents’ part and allows them to have a more significant role in the decision-making process. It is also more successful than court-ordered mediation.
Court-ordered mediation is generally provided at no cost but is more restrictive in the decision-making given to the parents. You are also subjected to the court’s scheduling, whereas private mediation allows for more flexible scheduling.
Whether privately or court-ordered, nearly all states require mediation in regards to child custody if the parents have not come to an agreement. So, if you don’t go the private route, you will most likely have to attend court-ordered mediation. In Georgia, mediation is mandatory.
The Skill Set of a Mediator
We understand that etching out child custody is one of the most challenging and emotional experiences of the divorce process. Both parents may have strong beliefs and wishes about how the children live and are raised, and emotions can lead to impasses in coming to an agreement.
A mediator is a trained, neutral professional who has worked with many, many divorcing parties before, understanding how to be an intermediary for parents in conflict. They will help to navigate around a parent’s individual desires in order to shift the focus back to attaining the best outcome for the children.
The Effects of Mediation Post-Divorce
Mediation serves as a foundation for communication with your co-parent after the divorce has been finalized. Through mediation, both parents can choose to be more civil and work together with the common aim of giving their children the best life possible. While the spousal relationship may not have worked out, the co-parenting relationship can be respectful, considerate and positive. Mediation can be utilized to set this tone going forward.
Furthermore, mediation is an opportunity to establish a constructive example for your children. As they experience two people arriving at an agreement in a courteous and considerate manner and see that same respect going forward, they learn a healthier communication method. This as opposed to the often more grueling and divisive interaction during and after the traditional court route.
When it comes to arriving at a child custody agreement, the absolute focus is the well-being and safety of the children. We at Platt Family Law are here to serve you throughout this process and help you find the best solution for you and your children. Contact us at 404-255-3434 for a consultation.