One difficult aspect of divorce is determining child custody. When you and the other parent cannot mutually agree to child custody terms, you will need to attend child custody mediation.
What Is Child Custody Mediation?
Pursuant to Family Code 3170(a), if a petition, application or modification request for child custody or visitation is contested, the court shall require the parties to attend custody mediation. Unlike voluntary mediation, a court-ordered mediation will not have a privately paid mediator — usually a retired judge or another lawyer — selected by the parties.
Preparing for Child Custody Mediation With an Unreasonable Parent
There are many reasons why ex-spouses will contest child custody. One parent may believe the other parent is unfit because they have different ideas of how to raise a child. It could be that there is so much animosity between the parents that children become stuck in the middle. Or, it could be that the parents just don’t want to live without the children. For whatever the reason, here are some ways to prepare for child custody mediation.
Don’t Agree Just to Agree
You do not have to come to an agreement during custody mediation. You should only agree to the terms if you believe the terms are in the best interest of your child. Don’t be pressured into agreeing to a custody plan that you don’t believe will work or is not in your child’s best interest.
You have an obligation to engage in a good faith effort in negotiations and actively participate in the custody mediation. Be reasonably by keeping an open mind and be willing to listen.
Focus on What’s Best for Your Children
The best way to prepare for your custody mediation is to make ignore the other parent during your decision-making process. Don’t let the other parent’s conduct, or your emotions towards the other parent, sway or otherwise influence your decision. Rather, have a clear understanding of what you believe to be in your children’s best interest and, importantly, why.
Review Available Parenting Plans
It is difficult to determine what plan will work best for your children. Every child is different and will react differently. But there are parenting plans available for you to review. These plans take into consideration the children’s ages and needs when providing sample terms. Check with your county to see if there are any parenting guidelines available for you to review.
Review Your Court Documents
You should familiarize yourself with the petition for child custody and the responsive declaration to the petition. This will provide you with the other party’s position so you could prepare yourself for what the other parent’s arguments will be.
Review Your Active Child Custody Order
You should re-review any active child custody order. If the petition is to modify the child custody order, then you should understand what your current order is and what changes the other party is seeking. You should also be familiar with any exhibits attached to the active order.
Review Your Supporting Exhibits
If you are seeking sole custody or wishing to modify the custody order, then be familiar with the documents supporting your request. For example, if the other party was involved in domestic violence or abused substances (alcohol or drugs), then make sure you know your evidence, such as medical records, police reports, photographs, etc.
Speak to an Experienced Child Custody Attorney
If you are in a child custody dispute, don’t go into the custody mediation alone. Having a seasoned child custody attorney with the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks fighting at your side will help ease your stress and your anxiety. Call (559) 222-4891 today.