Parents want what’s best for their children — but they don’t always agree on what that is. That disagreement can grow into legal battles. Separated or divorced parents can have those battles resolved by a judge, but a judge doesn’t know your child and can only impose solutions authorized by state law. If a judge has to declare the winner in your legal battle, you may end up with a solution no one likes.
Mediation is often a better path because it gives the parents a chance to hear each other out and come up with a solution that fits their child.
Here are a few recommendations to help you prepare for a successful child custody mediation session in Minneapolis.
Focus on the Big Picture
While the goal of mediation is for both parties to collaborate and reach an equitable resolution, it’s important to recognize that disagreements and other speed bumps are a natural part of the mediation process. In the middle of a dispute over their kids, parents often struggle with a range of intense emotions, as well as increased stress and anxiety levels. The deeply personal nature of this legal dispute can lead to heated verbal exchanges and disagreements over what’s best for your child.
While these reactions are valid, try to focus on the ultimate goal of mediation—to shape or modify a child custody agreement that will support your child’s needs. Whenever you feel frustration or despair creep in, take a moment to step back and recognize that all this work will help your child thrive. If you need a break, let the mediator know. Remember, mediation is a voluntary process and the mediator is there to help you make it as successful as possible.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Mediation works best when the parties come prepared. But prepared for what, and how?
Well, first you should have thought through what kind of solution you are proposing to the custody or parenting time problem that brought you to mediation. If, for example, you want to change the parenting schedule, then be prepared to explain why it is in your child’s best interest to make a change and to specify what you think the new schedule should be and why it’s better for the child.
Second, be prepared to listen and maybe change your mind. Maybe your co-parent will offer good reasons not to change the schedule, or point out ways the proposed change would cause new problems.
And that brings us to the third thing to be prepared for: Creative solutions. If both parties are able to share their ideas and worries and to listen to each other, then together — with a mediator’s help — they just might happen upon a solution that neither would have come up with alone.
Recognize Your Role as an Active Participant
In mediation, whether you reach a solution is up to the parents. Unlike a judge, the mediator does not issue a final ruling or decide what should happen. Instead, the parties actively shape the resolution in discussions guided and facilitated by the mediator. Sometimes, participants may assume that the mediator has taken a side or has the power to affect the outcome, but this is not the case. Recognize that you and the other party are in control of creating the parenting plan and determining other child custody arrangements. Once you realize that the outcome is in your hands, you may feel more empowered by the mediation process.
To learn more about the mediation process for resolving family law matters in Minnesota or St. Paul, contact Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.