Determining child custody is one of the hardest aspects of the divorce process. Emotions often take over, which makes it more challenging to come up with an agreement that is best for the child.
Divorce mediation has become a popular alternative to going through litigation. There are many benefits of it, and one is that parents work more collaboratively to decide on a child custody arrangement.
How mediation works
The Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation discusses divorce mediation and its benefits. It consists of a mediator, who is a neutral party, and the divorcing spouses. The mediator allows each side to discuss their wants and needs and then works with both of them to come up with a fair divorce agreement. When disagreements arise, the mediator is able to dispel the tension and offer alternative solutions.
Benefits of mediation for child custody decisions
Some of the benefits of mediation include that it is less expensive and a faster process than litigation. Because it is a collaborative process, the two sides are able to communicate in a low-stress environment, show respect for each other’s needs and come up with fair agreements. The process allows them to put aside their own wants and discuss what is best for the child.
Best interest considerations
If parents need help determining child custody, the Child Welfare Information Gateway outlines what the best interest considerations are. These include:
- The ability of each parent to provide for the child
- The physical and mental health of each parent and child
- The current living situation
- The child’s school and extracurricular schedule
- Each parent’s work and social schedules
- The child’s relationship with other family members
In many situations, joint custody is the preferred arrangement. The mediator can also work with the parents to come up with a parenting plan and schedule that works for everyone.