If you are going through a divorce and have a kid, you know that there will be a child custody case that will decide who gets to keep the kid and who gets visitation rights. There are mediation services in California for child custody cases.
Child custody mediation helps avoid bitter child custody battles by getting a third party involved, one who understands the law and can help you sort out differences. Mediation is usually undertaken by a lawyer or attorney and can be quite useful, especially if you are expecting a messy divorce and a child custody battle with your spouse.
Preparing For Child Custody Mediation
Here are a few ways you can prepare for your child custody mediation meetings:
- Have the basics handy: Basics include your work and travel schedules and your kid’s school timings, planned school trips, holidays, exams and tests, and special requirements if any, such as medication or therapy. You can make a list of these basics and print them out for your attorney and mediator and for your spouse, if required.
- Create a potential plan for your kid’s life: A potential plan should include how you plan to go about parenting, changes in your work and personal schedules, how visitation can fit it, planning for vacations and short trips, who makes the major life decisions for your kid, and anything else that you think your child might require. Having a potential plan in place helps streamline discussions and make mediation sessions useful.
- Meet with a counselor: If you or your kid feels agitated or if you are unable to keep your composure when talking about custody, it might make sense to talk to a counselor before going for mediation. This will help you remain calm during heated discussions, put your points across clearly during meetings, and ensure that you do not lose your cool in front of your kid.
- Be open to negotiation: Even if you have a potential plan for your kid’s life in place and you feel you have it figured out well, you should be able to take suggestions and be open to change. The idea of mediation is to reach a consensus and avoid bitter custody battles in court, and negotiation is crucial to the process.
- Keep your child’s best interests in mind: You may be extremely attached to your kid or hate your spouse, but you need to keep these factors aside when making a decision about your kid’s life. You must not overlook what your child needs because of your prejudices and emotions.
Tips To Ensure Your Child Copes Well
Ensuring that your kid is coping well is important at every step of the divorce and custody cases, and is essential. Here are a few things you can do to help your kid cope well:
- 1. Speak to your child about what is going to happen and ensure they know what is going on and what is expected of them.
- 2. If your child is expected to make decisions during the mediation, explain what the expectations are before the mediation so your kid can prepare for it.
- 3. Ensure that you do not speak ill of the other parent in front of the kid, irrespective of how the divorce and custody are proceeding.
- 4. Take your kid to a counselor before and during the mediation if your kid seems to be confused or is struggling to cope with everything that is going on.
It is important to constantly remind yourself during custody cases that the priority is the child and not you or your differences. You must put your child’s interests before yourself and ensure you do what is best for your kid.
Maya Shulman, Esq.
Shulman Family Law Group