In California, child custody mediation is a precursor to going before the judge to receive the final custody order. Mediation has many benefits, and one of the main ones is the positive effect it has on children. According to the American Bar Association, parents who cooperate through mediation rather than pursue a lawsuit reduce the stress of conflict that children typically feel during a divorce. Outcomes are generally much more beneficial for children, too, as parents are usually able to work out a schedule that allows each of them to develop and maintain a healthy relationship with their child.
A parent may worry, though, that compromise will result in a less favorable parenting plan. FindLaw offers these tips to help a parent get the most out of the mediation process.
Create a realistic custody schedule
While it may be tempting to monopolize the schedule, the court is likely to disregard a plan that keeps the child from spending time with the other parent. There are many sample custody plans online that may be helpful as a jumping off point for negotiations.
Flexibility does not have to mean giving in on points that are important. Having a prioritized list can help identify where concessions may be made.
If there are reasons that the other parent should not spend time with the child alone, such as substance abuse issues or domestic violence, this needs to be addressed. Bad-mouthing the spouse is not likely to have the desired effect, though. Bringing police reports and other evidence of danger to the mediation session is a good idea.