What is Child Custody Mediation?
Child custody mediation is a confidential process in which a mediator, functioning as an impartial and neutral third party, assists parents in coming to voluntary agreements regarding their parenting plan in a private and non-adversarial setting. Whether as part of a divorce, in the separation of parents who were never married, or in guardianship cases, making decisions regarding children can be one of the most complex and difficult areas for parents to work together, yet it is also one of the most important areas for them to do so. Professional Family Mediators are uniquely trained and qualified to assist families in developing comprehensive parenting plans or in modifying their existing plan in a way that can result in mutually acceptable agreements that are customized to meet the needs of their unique situation.
What if we want our children’s wishes to be heard in the process?
One of the services we provide is Child Inclusive Mediation where children are given a voice in the mediation process. Children are very often aware of their parent’s disputes over custody and often wish to be heard without being asked to decide between one parent or the other. Additionally, children are often fearful about a court or judge (who are strangers from your child’s perspective) making decisions about their lives. Our mediators have training and experience in interviewing children and we provide a safe, impartial, and private setting for children to communicate their needs and preferences regarding their family situation. Child Inclusive Mediation allows parents to give their children a voice in the decision making in a less costly and less intrusive way than other processes commonly used by the courts.
Common items in a Comprehensive Parenting Plan
- Parenting time schedule (regular schedule, holidays, vacations, school breaks)
- Parental decision making regarding healthcare, school, and other important areas
- Transportation to exchanges in parenting time
- Childcare decisions and associated costs
- Information sharing (what to communicate, how to communicate and when)
- Decision making around child’s activities (sports, clubs, other extracurricular activities)
- How to handle schedule changes and scheduling conflicts
- Child support and other child expenses
Do I need an attorney?
Mediators can assist those who choose to file their own custody case, as well as, those who choose to work with attorneys in conjunction with mediation to settle their custody case. Due to the high cost of attorney’s fees more and more people choose not to hire an attorney and many states, including Idaho, allow people to fill out and file their own custody paperwork (http://www.courtselfhelp.idaho.gov/).