You should go into mediation prepared – know what custody arrangement you are seeking and be ready to give the mediator specifics as to what you want the schedule to be.
You should know exactly what you will settle for, and at what point you should just walk out with no agreement.
You should be prepared to make a 10-minute presentation as to why the custodial arrangement you propose is best for the children. You should also anticipate and be prepared to politely refute the other parent’s arguments.
Before attending mediation you need to have a pre-set “credit limit.” In other words, you should know exactly what you will settle for, and at what point you should just walk out with no agreement.
Many mediators use pressure tactics and will tell you that if you don’t agree to what they are proposing that the court will order something much worse. In reality, the mediator has no idea what the judge will do and you should not be intimidated or pressured by such inappropriate tactics. You should thoroughly discuss with your attorney what will likely happen if you proceed with a court hearing so that you can know what would be a reasonable settlement in mediation.
Which Custody Label Will You Use?
Make sure you discuss with your attorney the issue of what custody “label” you want. Know the difference between legal and physical custody and understand the term “primary physical custody.”
If you can’t agree on a label, but can agree on a schedule, it’s all right to agree on a specific custody schedule but leave the other issues off the table for now. This way, the attorneys or judge can decide on the label or designation. Mediators are employees of the court. They exist because the family court system is overburdened and their sole purpose is to reduce the number of custody cases that judges need to hear.
The mediation department has to report statistics to their boss (the judges) showing how many cases they resolve. Resolving more cases justifies the existence of the mediation department and ensures they get a bigger budget next year. This explains, in part, why some mediators use pressure tactics.
Consult With an Attorney for Optimum Results
Your court-ordered child custody mediation is a serious matter. For instances that are this important, it is always in your best interest to discuss your options and the proper procedures pertaining to your case with an experienced and qualified attorney.