Couples with children going through a divorce or legal separation often do not agree on child custody and visitation matters. In this regard, the couple should strongly consider attending child custody mediation. We first must assume that both parents are responsible and abuse is not involved. With this in mind, child custody mediation allows parents to reach an agreement about child custody without the court imposing their own solution. In other words, child custody mediation will enable parents, themselves,  the opportunity to work out a custody agreement outside of court. Moreover, this process has a multitude of benefits. First, the child custody mediation will save everyone money by not litigating this issue. Secondly, the result of child custody mediation typically is usually better than an independent ruling made by a judge. Read on to learn more about the benefits of child custody mediation in California.

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Get help with Child Custody Mediation!

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Child Custody Mediation Overview

Child custody mediation requires the couple to work with a third-party mediator who will help the parents develop a custody and visitation plan. The plan may later become a custody and visitation order signed by the judge. Some counties refer to child custody mediation as “child custody recommending counseling.” Under such circumstances, the mediator serves as the child custody recommending counselor. For instance, this role allows the mediator to give a written recommendation to the parents and the court in the event the couple cannot reach an agreement. The goals of child custody mediation include the following:

  1. Determining what parenting plan is in the child’s best interest
  2. Developing a parenting plan that allows both children to spend time with both parents
  3. Creating a parenting plan that helps parents deal with anger management

Child Custody Mediation Options

Keep in mind, parents can either hire a private mediator or use a public child custody mediator. If the parents want to go ahead with private child custody mediation, the couple will need to find a mediator. Of course, there are many trained and experienced mediators working throughout California that help parents resolve custody and visitation conflicts. Keep in mind, the personality and approach of the mediator may have a direct impact on its success. Since most private mediators hourly rates start at $300 per hour, you want to make the most of your mediation time. Fortunately, most courts also provide mediation services to people who cannot afford to hire a private mediator. For example, parents are often referred to Family Court Services (FCS) to mediate child custody and visitation disputes before heading to court.

Parents do not have to pay mediators retained through FCS. However, if parents are unable to reach an agreement during the FCS mediation service, the mediator’s will give their recommendation to the judge. In most situations, the mediator’s proposal is often imposed by the judge at the child custody and visitation hearing.

Overview of the Mediator’s Role

During mediation, the parties will work with a third-party neutral (the mediator) to foster communication to reach an agreement. To hear all sides of the story, the mediator will usually meet with the parents individually as well as the children. The mediator may also meet with the couple together. The purpose of mediation is to bring the couples to an agreement. Given this premise, the mediator will ask several questions to develop an overview of custody issues. In the event the parents are in a hostile relationship, parents can ask to meet with the mediator separately.

The mediator’s role is to help the parents identify the most critical issues for resolution. To emphasize, the mediator will work with both parents to help them solve the problems between themselves. Keep in mind, a couple can agree on some issues and then ask the court to litigate those they cannot agree on.

Parents who have success with mediating child custody disputes attend mediation with an open mind. In other words, if you are not ready to consider different alternatives to your proposed solution, mediation may not be right for you. In many California counties, the court requires couples with minor children to attend mediation. For this reason, if you want the best result, always attend child custody mediation with the best intentions in mind.

Contact A People’s Choice for more information about child mediation services for parents in California.

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