6 Reasons Why A Child Custody Mediator Is Better Than A Judge
Victoria Pappas Law Student, Cardozo School of Law
Sometimes parents figure this out on their own. Sometimes the decision is made in the courtroom by a judge, especially when parents can’t agree.
But you do not have to go to court to legally determine child custody. This process can be done through mediation, with the help of a mediator.
A child custody mediator is a neutral, third-party who helps the parents resolve disputes and come up with living and visitation plans.
The benefits of mediation
Mediation allows the parents to collaborate and resolve their issues together. In other words, the parents decide what happens rather than a judge.
There are many benefits to using a mediator over going to court.
1. Mediation saves time and money.
One study found that mediation saved divorcing couples between 2.5 and 3.5 months in time to resolution, and a modest amount of money.
Some mediation meetings are started and resolved within 2-3 hours, whereas court proceedings can take weeks, months or even years. Parents also have greater flexibility as they help decide when mediation meetings occur.
2. People are happier with the outcome.
Often, when a judge decides custody, one parent is left hurt. Studies have found that parents tend to be more satisfied with the outcomes in mediation, probably because the mediator does not make the ultimate decision for the parents. Mediators facilitate the conversation and help the parents resolve any disputes from a neutral perspective.
3. The parents have more control over the outcome.
When custody is determined by a judge, the parents do not have direct control over the outcome.
You or your lawyer can explain to the judge what you would like to happen or what you think the best solution is - but ultimately the decision is not up to the parents.
If the parents agree to work together with a mediator, the custody decision is completely up to them and what they can agree upon.
Neither parent is forced to make an agreement they do not like.
If they are not satisfied by the proposed resolution or cannot come to an agreement, the parents do not have to continue in the mediation process. The next option is usually to go to court and have a judge decide.
4. It is less stressful for the children.
When parents use a mediator, the fighting (and let’s admit it...divorcing couples fight) happens behind closed doors.
The children usually don’t see as many arguments.
One study found that mediation had a positive effect on children of divorcing parents, and helped them cope with the future.
5. Mediation agreements are usually followed.
Because mediators help find a mutual decision regarding custody, the parents are more likely to follow the agreement.
When a judge decides custody, it’s more common for one parent to break the rules by doing things like not bringing a child to the other parent at the agreed upon time.
Whether a judge decides custody, or a mediator does, you have legal recourse if your ex violates the agreement.
A lawyer can help you decide what course of action to take based on how your agreement came to be.
6. It is private.
Finally, mediation proceedings are kept private between the parents and the mediator. There is no public record of the meditation.
On the other hand, most court proceedings and lawsuits tend to be public information meaning anyone, like your nosy neighbors, can find out what happened.
Reach out to us to talk to a lawyer about the best way for you to handle determining custody.
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