Your Guide to Child Custody Mediation

If you are in the midst of a family law case involving child custody or you are about to find yourself involved in a child custody case, you have probably heard about “mediation” and how it may be recommended or even required for your case. This type of dispute resolution keeps you and the other party out of the courtroom and gives you both the opportunity to come to an agreement about child custody without litigation.

Mediation is completely confidential and centered only around you, the other parent, and the decisions that are in the best interest of your child. This process gives you the space to clearly communicate with the other parent and come to mutual agreements with help and effective guidance from a neutral, third-party mediator. Plus, mediation helps establish a foundation of communication once agreements are finalized and life moves on; after all, you will likely be communicating with the other parent for as long as your child is a minor (and even beyond that point).

To help prepare for what to expect during mediation for your child custody case, let us break down the process and offer a general but thorough guide. (We say “general” because no two cases are exactly alike, and your case may involve steps or moments that are unique to your needs and circumstances.)

1. Selecting the Mediator

In some situations, your attorney and the other party’s attorney may decide on a mediator together. In others, the mediator may be appointed by the judge overseeing the case. Whoever your attorneys or judge selects is going to be qualified, certified, experienced, and skilled at helping you and the other parent work together to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties and is ultimately in the best interest of your child.

The criteria for becoming and remaining a mediator in Georgia includes:

  • 40 hours of approved basic mediation training by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution (GODR)
  • At least 20 hours of supervised mediation experience
  • Certification from the GODR
  • Continuing education to renew certification

2. Preparing for Sessions

Your sessions, or meetings, are where you and the other parent will, ideally, work together to reach a final agreement regarding custody of your child. In order to get the most out of your sessions, you and your attorney will prepare by discussing:

  • Priorities, or what is most important to you regarding the child custody arrangement
  • Concerns, or what you are most worried about regarding the arrangement
  • Issues, or all matters to your case that will need to be discussed (i.e., how shared custody should be divided, how holidays and summers should be divided, what communication methods should be used between yourself and the other parent, etc.)
  • Goals, or what you are hoping will be established through the final arrangement

3. Attending Sessions

Frustrated young man listening to psychologist while his offended girlfriend sitting apart, family counselor talking to unhappy couple solving problems in relationships at counseling therapy session

During your sessions, you and your attorney will sit down together with the mediator, the other parent, and their attorney to discuss your case and work toward an agreement. The mediation can also take place in caucus, where the mediator talks to you and your attorney privately, and the other parent and their attorney privately. The number of sessions you must attend is completely dependent on how cooperative and willing both parties are to work with one another and move forward toward a final agreement. Any deliberate miscommunication or lack of cooperation could extend the mediation process and require you to attend more sessions than desired.

Sessions typically last several hours each, so preparation is extremely beneficial on both sides to help make every minute in the session count. After each session, you will likely debrief with your attorney and prepare for your next upcoming session, if you have not already reached an agreement.

4. After Mediation

If you and the other parent eventually come to an agreement, your attorney (or the other parent’s attorney) will create a settlement to file with the court so that the judge can provide a final custody order. If you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement and it looks as if neither will budge, your case may move to litigation where you will have to essentially battle it out in the courtroom.

However your child custody agreement is reached, it is important to stick to the final custody order and remain compliant with it. You will have opportunities to petition to modify it, if necessary, but should you pursue modification, it is important to follow the order as it written until it is officially modified.

Child custody mediation keeps decisions between yourself and the other parent and out of the court’s hands. Let Platt Family Law represent you during the mediation process.

You deserve representation you can trust. Rachel Platt and the all-female family law attorneys at our firm are skilled and experienced in working through mediation. We diligently represent you and work with the other party to reach favorable outcomes that keep your child’s best interest at the helm.

Schedule a consultation with our firm today to discuss your case: 404-255-3434

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