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Practical Tips for Preparing for Child Custody Mediation

Practical Tips for Preparing for Child Custody Mediation

Adjusting to life after divorce is challenging for everyone concerned. Working with a mediator to help develop a child custody agreement is a constructive way to come to a fair outcome that honors the needs of the child and feels more satisfactory to the parents involved as well. Many states have done away with the concept of custody and visitation in favor of parenting agreements. However, while the law in Virginia still refers to custody and visitation agreements the concepts have moved in the direction of the parties arriving at parenting agreements which are in the best interest of the children. Our mediators are trained and attuned to the needs of the children and sensitive to the realities of life and how changes must be accommodated.  We prefer to prepare parenting agreements but such that they resolve all issues of custody and visitation and can be made part of a Virginia divorce decree.

TheSpruce.com defines child custody mediation as “a collaborative process with a common goal in mind: to do what is best for your children.” Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution methodology which places both parents in a conference room with a neutral third-party mediator to focus on the best interest of the child and develop a custody agreement and parenting plan agreement which will govern how each of you interacts with our child for years to come.

Getting prepared for child custody mediation

But you do not want to just show up at the first mediation session unprepared. You want to do a bit of research, gather the necessary documentation and get into a productive mindset. Here are a few tips that will help you prepare to go through the process of child custody mediation:

Make a firm commitment to enter the process with an open mind, and with a focus on getting to the best solution for your child. If you are feeling anxious, have a long list of firm expectations, or if you have the idea that being intractable is a good way to get back at your soon-to-be former spouse for the pain they caused you, it is a good idea to schedule a meeting with a mental health professional so that you can talk though those issues so that they will be resolved before you begin mediation.

Be aware of your goals and your concerns for your child. You might jot down a few notes that pertain to details about your child’s life that you do not want to be overlooked. Check with your mediator to confirm what is permissible to bring to mediation in terms of documentation.

Trust the process. You have done your research. You are familiar with the mediation process and what to expect. You know your child and you have your ideas about what would be best for them, but you must be prepared for an outcome that might look a lot different than what is in your mind. Remember that the mediator is a professional who has worked with conflict resolution for decades. Your Virginia child custody mediator is familiar with your side, your spouse’s side, and your child’s needs. In a child custody mediation, you child’s best interests are paramount, not your personal preferences.

Resources for parents going through child custody mediation in Virginia

The Virginia courts have provided many resources for parents who are going through divorce. From parent education seminars to informational videos and brochures, you will find helpful information to prepare you to work through child custody mediation.

At Divorce Mediation Associates, Ltd., we are here to support families in northern Virginia who need to come to an agreement about child custody, and create a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your child. You are welcome to make an appointment with one of our divorce mediators by calling 703-665-7592 or fill out our contact form.