Family Law Watch: Preparation For Child Custody Mediation

In divorce, one of the toughest realities parents must face is the division of time with their children. Shuttling children back and forth between two households becomes the new reality. While this process is never easy for parents, many families are making it work and can establish a workable parenting schedule with no court intervention. There are however, parents who need court assistance to help establish an acceptable parenting plan.

In San Diego, if parents cannot agree on a parenting plan and seek court intervention, the court will set a mediation date at Family Court Services, where parents meet with a professionally trained counselor who recommends a parenting plan for families. The court will consider the recommendations of a Family Court Services mediator when making child custody and visitation orders.

What can parents do to prepare for Family Court Services mediation?

1. Outline Concerns & Desires: Parents should prepare a list of their top concerns and a proposal for a child custody and visitation schedule. Being prepared for mediation will help individuals stay on track, especially when nerves and emotions are running high.

2. Meet With A Professional Counselor Before Mediation: Meeting with a trained professional counselor to prepare individuals for mediation is valuable and should be considered. The trained counselor can provide helpful tools for presenting an individual’s position, getting important points across to the mediator, and countering any personal attacks by an ex-spouse during mediation.

3. Consider A Discussion With Ex-Spouse Prior To Mediation: If communication lines are open between spouses, it may be worthwhile to contact the other spouse prior to mediation to discuss potential agreements and outstanding issues. If both parties agree on certain issues prior to mediation, the mediation process may become less daunting and more productive and efficient.

If the idea of a single mediation at Family Court Services, followed by recommendations, does not appeal to a particular couple, and the couple can afford to hire a private mediator for a series of mediation sessions, there are several good mediators who specifically handle private child custody mediations. In either case, the goal of child custody mediation is to establish a suitable parenting plan that is in the best interests of the children. It is important to keep this in mind throughout the entire process before a child custody and visitation plan is established.