Learn what you can do to take the stress out of upcoming child custody mediation

There’s no getting around the fact that child custody mediation is a stressful process, but when handled correctly from the beginning, it can be an invaluable tool for planning a better future for you and your family. Help from experienced third-party mediators – professionals who are trained to look at every case through an objective lens – is the key reason why mediation has so much potential for positive conflict resolution, but it’s still up to the parents to compromise and co-sign on their advice. Whether your mediation is voluntary or ordered by the court, here’s what you can do to make a difficult situation as smooth and manageable as possible:

Refresh Your Memory

Because the details of your life are central to the discussion, your mediator needs to understand the entire timeline of your relationship – from start to dissolution – to do his or her job effectively. Writing down how many separations you’ve had, how long they’ve lasted, and whether you and your partner have ever had counseling can help you face tough questions with confidence.

Create a Reasonable Parenting Plan

Child custody mediation is essentially a negotiation of parenting rights, so you want to come prepared with a strong idea of what you think your custody agreement should look like in the future. The tricky part is finding the perfect balance between your own rights and the rights of your partner. To help talks move along, you may want to split your plan into two areas: the conditions you’re firm on and those you’re willing to negotiate. While there’s a good chance that you and your partner will start at the opposite ends of the spectrum, being clear about your expectations can help you meet in the middle quicker.

This is also a good time to bring up your concerns and explain why your home is the best place for your child to spend his or her time. Remember that the focus should always be on coming up with an amicable resolution, so you don’t want to make tensions worse by openly attacking your partner’s parenting style. Your mediator will already have a good view of your situation from reviewing the evidence in your case and hosting your meetings.

Consider Hiring a Family Law Attorney

Child custody mediation is more informal than arbitration, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for legal help from a qualified attorney. From answering your questions to keeping your case out of the courtroom, an experienced attorney can help you navigate every step of the mediation process on your terms.