If you are a parent in New Jersey and you are getting a divorce or splitting up with the other parent of your child, you might enter into child custody mediation. If this is a possibility for your situation, you may wonder what to expect from the mediation process.
What mediation does
Mediation can help resolve conflict between you and the other parent regarding child custody and other parenting issues. Mediators act as neutral parties who work to reach a resolution that suits both of you. This is in contrast to what generally happens if a child custody case goes to court, where the proceedings are more adversarial and there is sometimes a “winner” and a “loser.” You or the other parent might want to go to mediation, or a judge may require mediation. If a judge has ordered it, you need to show that you are willing to try it. You do not necessarily have to attend if the other parent requests the mediator, but the unbiased opinion may help you solve some problems.
What to expect
A mediation session may be over in as little as an hour, or it might last for two or three hours. Both you and your spouse will have the opportunity to discuss your issues and concerns regarding child custody and visitation. A second session can be scheduled if you still have things to resolve at the end of the first one. You might want to put any agreement that you come to in writing, and a mediator can also help you with this.
Mediation is not possible in every circumstance, such as in divorces involving domestic abuse. However, there are advantages to using mediation when it is appropriate. The process gives you more control over the agreement that you reach with the other parent. It can also lay the groundwork for conflict resolution in your coparenting relationship. Some parents include an agreement in their parenting plan to go to mediation if they have a dispute that they cannot resolve.