When a couple decides to divorce, one of the most contentious and emotionally charged issues that need to be resolved is custody over the couple’s children. If you and your spouse disagree over how custody should be arranged (joint custody, sole custody, physical custody, etc.), the matter will need to be addressed by a judge during a hearing. However, before a hearing takes place, you will need to engage in mediation. In fact, according to Family Code Section 3170(a), parents are legally required to participate in child custody mediation (also known as child custody recommending counseling). Click below to learn how to win child custody mediation in 2022:
What is Child Custody Mediation?
When parents are unable to reach an agreement on their own about custody of their children, a child custody order will need to be filed with the judge presiding over the divorce proceeding. As mentioned, in the State of California, custody mediation is mandatory. As a result, the judge will proceed with setting a date for the mediation session.
Mediation is considered to be a key aspect of the legal custody process. Even if you are represented by a Novato child custody lawyer, the actual mediation session is only attended by the parents of the child, or children, and the mediator.
Ultimately, if you can reach an agreement during the mediation session, the mediator has the authority to assist the parents in creating a parenting plan that may then become a custody and visitation order, once it is reviewed and signed by the judge overseeing the case.
Child Custody Mediation: Five Tips to Help Everyone Win
When preparing for a child custody mediation session, it is important to understand that there are no actual winners or losers in this process. No one “wins” in a child custody dispute. Instead, the goal needs to be to reach an amicable agreement with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to ensure your child’s interests are addressed and well served. A long, protracted custody battle does not help your child, or children.
1. Keep Your Child as the Priority
During the mediation session, it is important to always remember that the proceeding is not about you or your spouse. The session is not an opportunity to critique your spouse’s parenting abilities or get into a heated argument over irrelevant issues. The focus is on your child and their best interests. This is why the session will include a discussion about your relationship with your child and your ability to effectively co-parent.
2. Be Organized and Have a Plan in Advance
Drafting a parenting plan and parenting time schedule prior to the session will not only help expedite the proceedings, but also reflects positively on you and the action you took to be proactive about the mediation. The parenting plan should include clear details about the custody arrangement you prefer and the rationale for why it should be adopted by the court.
3. Do Not Lie
If you encounter a difficult question during the mediation session, it is extremely important to be candid and honest. Do not lie or misconstrue anything. Why? Because being dishonest creates an opening for your spouse to “call you out” and attempt to portray you as a liar to the mediator.
4. Through Evidence, Show How Much You Know and Care for Your Child
If you can clearly illustrate your depth of understanding in relation to the needs of your child, you will be in a strong position during the session to achieve a favorable outcome on custody. The types of evidence you may wish to present during the mediation include photographs of you interacting with your child, video clips, email messages, text messages, etc.
5. Anticipate Criticism of Your Parenting Skills and Show How You Plan to Overcome Them
You are not perfect. That is okay; no one is. Nevertheless, you should prepare yourself for critiques and criticisms being levied at you by your spouse during the mediation. The key to prevailing in a mediation session is to not let these criticisms get to you. Stay focused, calm, and keep your eye on the ball – ensuring the best outcome possible for your child.
Have Questions About the Child Custody Mediation Process? Contact an Experienced Child Custody Attorney in Novato, CA
If you have questions related to the child custody mediation process, Castro Law Offices, P.C. is here to help. We are a premier law firm specializing divorce, child custody, and all other issues concerning California family law. For assistance, contact Castro Law Offices, P.C. today to schedule a confidential consultation.
Castro Law Offices, P.C. is based in Novato, California. Nevertheless, we are able to provide effective legal services to clients, including those seeking guidance and assistance with child custody disputes, in various localities throughout the Golden State, including San Rafael, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sausalito, Larkspur, West Marin, Ross, Mill Valley and Corte Madera. Contact Castro Law Offices, P.C. today to schedule a confidential consultation.