Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating parenting settlements. You and your co-parent or, in some cases, the two of you and your respective lawyers hire a neutral third party, called a mediator to meet with you to discuss and resolve the issues. The mediator doesn’t make decisions for you, but serves as a facilitator to help you and your spouse/co-parent figure out what’s best
Anyone who is involved in a parenting dispute should consider mediation as an option. Mediation can work for almost all couples and has a long list of benefits.
- Mediation is much less expensive than a court trial or a series of hearings.
- Most mediations end in a settlement of all the issues.
- Mediation is confidential, with no public record of what goes on in your sessions.
- Mediation allows you to arrive at a resolution based on your own ideas of what is fair in your situation, rather than having a solution imposed upon you.
- You can still have a lawyer give you legal advice if you wish.
- You and your co-parent – not the court – can control the process.
- The mediation process can improve communication between you and your coparent, helping to facilitate further communication.
What is required to make a parenting mediation successful is for both people to show up willing to negotiate and open to compromise. Don’t reject mediation just because you and your coparent see a particular issue very differently – in other words, don’t give up before you’ve begun. Mediation is a powerful process and many cases that seem impossible to resolve at the beginning end up in a settlement if everyone is committed to the process.
The two most important things you can do to make your mediation successful are:
- to be open to compromise, and
- to really listen and try to understand the other’s point of view.
Understanding your co-parent’s point of view doesn’t mean you have to agree with it; at least recognise that he/she is entitled to a point of view. It’s possible that once you do understand what their real concerns are, you will have new ideas about how to resolve things. Your efforts at understanding will encourage the other party to do the same, and you are more likely to reach a solution that works for you if your co-parent understands what is important to you.