While it may not seem like it at first, this is a good thing for the vast majority of divorcing or unmarried parents. Mediation can provide the best opportunity to reach fair solutions, all the while keeping legal costs down and emotional conflict in check. It may also be the best way to protect your children from unnecessary stress.
Whether you are entering mediation voluntarily or due to a court order, you need solid information about the mediation process. You must know what to expect and how to prepare for this pivotal step in your life.
Be Calm. Be Parental. Above All, Be Fully Prepared for Mediation.
You are not required to bring your own attorney to mediation, but having your own counsel can be invaluable. The decisions you make will influence your most important relationships for years to come. Whether you choose to hire a qualified family lawyer or proceed on your own, here are some essential guidelines:
- Bring basic knowledge of Minnesota custody laws, including the factors courts consider in deciding physical custody, legal custody and parenting time. Although a mediator will not issue orders, she or he will provide guidance consistent with these laws – all of which emphasize the best interests of the child.
- Bring a parenting time schedule that reflects your desires and that you believe is reasonable. Remember to address holidays and vacations throughout the year. Be realistic in accounting for your own work schedule and social goals.
- Bring documents showing that you are a loving, involved and supportive parent. Some examples might include your kids’ report cards, pictures of you sharing time together, notes you’ve exchanged and any relevant financial records. Do this even if you do not expect the other parent to dispute these facts. It is far better to be prepared than to be blindsided.
- Bring a list of other key concerns and priorities regarding your children. Try to think broadly about the question, “What matters most to me when I envision our future relationships?”
What Else Can I Do To Help Custody Mediation Succeed?
You must have a clear sense of your goals, whether they involve gaining primary custody, achieving joint custody or arriving at an optimal parenting schedule. Equally important, you must enter custody mediation with a genuine spirit of cooperation. Be truthful and open to compromise. Mediation has a high success rate, but when it fails, the key reason is often someone’s argumentative approach or abusive behavior.
At White & Associates in Elk River, Minnesota, you will find attorneys and Rule 114 qualified mediators prepared to help you make the best possible choices for your future. We will welcome your questions about family law mediation and the other legal issues that matter most to you.