Child custody is a highly emotional issue for most divorcing couples, and finding a middle ground can be difficult. One way to resolve the issue that has been gaining traction in recent years is mediation.
During the mediation process, both parties will work with a trained third party – typically a custody mediator – to come to an agreement regarding the custody situation. This allows all involved parties to communicate, air grievances, and actively seek solutions that are reasonable for both sides.
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What Can You Expect During Child Custody Mediation?
Child custody mediation is a process designed to help parents understand what will become of their children after a custody dispute. It’s an opportunity for both parties to come together and work towards an agreement that works best for the family. This helps prevent a court trial, during which the parties are subject to laws or judgments set by a judge. A neutral third-party mediator is usually present to assist in working out an agreement and this can be done privately or in an official court setting.
During a child custody mediation session, both parents have the chance to devise a custody plan that they feel is best for the children; such as determining child custody, who has primary custody, how holidays will be spent, etc. It takes away from the feeling of being blindsided by unexpected decisions made in court and allows for more easily managed and predictable schedules to be established. Additionally, since it’s likely that both parents will agree on what’s been discussed at more than face value, this is helpful for the children affected by the decision – providing them with stability and comfort knowing when they get to see their parents in spite of their separated living situation.
What to Bring to Child Custody Mediation
When it comes to child custody mediation, it is important to come prepared. You must be able to make your case and present your evidence in order to persuade the mediator of the best course of action for the involved parties. Having a discussion list and any relevant documents will help keep the conversation organized and on track. It is recommended to bring calendars to document ongoing visitation schedules as well as other items such as financial records or proof of employment.
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With these kinds of documents backing up claims or requests during mediation, a more informed decision can be made that better supports all parties involved in terms of parenting plans or holiday visits. Ultimately, if you come prepared with supportive documents and an open mind ready for negotiation, then child custody mediation will likely remain amicable.
How to Prepare for Child Custody Mediation
Before a child custody mediation meeting, there are common steps you should take to ensure you’re adequately prepared. First and foremost, create a list of child custody discussion points that you want to talk about during your session. This can include topics such as living arrangements for when each parent has custody or settling on a parenting plan that both parties agree with.
It’s also important to keep respect for all involved parties’ wishes and views and focus on developing solutions rather than assigning blame. It will also be helpful to remain open-minded to suggestions that may not have been initially considered. Child custody mediation works best when all participants work together cooperatively and are willing to negotiate in good faith. Keeping these principles in mind will help you achieve a fair resolution quickly.
What Will be the Plan for Picking Up and Dropping Off the Kids?
When parents are sharing custody of their children, it is important to have a clear plan in place for picking up and dropping off the kids. This plan will be stipulated in the divorce agreement or other written custody plan. Generally, the non-custodial parent will be responsible for picking up and dropping off the children on their designated parenting time.
Useful Tools: Child Custody Parenting Plan Calendar
The custodial parent should provide enough notice of when they need the children back on their own days, as well as provide relevant details such as the exact address where the drop-off will take place. If there are any special considerations such as weekend visits being divided or longer vacations, both parents should agree to these modifications beforehand.
How Will Holidays, Birthdays, and Other Special Times Be Handled?
When deciding on how to handle holidays, birthdays, and other special times in a child custody agreement, it is important to take the needs of both parents and children into consideration. An ideal plan should aim for balance and fairness for everyone involved. It’s important to come to an agreement about which parent will have the kids on various holidays, birthdays, and special days like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Additionally, keep in mind any family traditions that are important to both parents and children when deciding how these holidays, birthdays, and special days will be handled. This can help ensure consistency and make sure no one feels left out of their annual holiday festivities. Talk about what types of activities you want to do with your children during special times like Christmas when coming up with an overall agreement about who gets the kids on different days throughout the year.
Who Will Have Legal Custody?
When a family makes the decision to separate, or when a child’s parents divorce, it can be difficult to come to an agreement as to who will assume legal custody of the child. Legally speaking, legal custody refers to the parent who is responsible for making decisions regarding things such as the education and healthcare of children involved in separation or divorce cases.
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It is important for both parents involved to be aware that there are two types of custodial arrangements – sole custody and joint custody. In a case with only one parent assuming legal custody (sole), this person will make all decisions about their child’s best interests without taking input from any other party. On the other hand, joint custody situations allow both parties involved in the divorce case to have input in important decisions regarding the child’s life and future. This form of custodial rights sees both parties negotiating and making decisions that affect their child jointly.
What Happens if One Parent Decides to Move Away?
If one parent decides to move away, there can be a number of issues that arise in the process. Separating parents will want to discuss these matters through mediation so they can come to an agreement that fits their family’s needs. One major concern is regarding visitation. Depending on the distance between the two residences, it could affect visitations if one parent moves too far away from the other. Visiting might become more difficult and costly for both parties involved if travel is necessary for visitation purposes.
In terms of living arrangements, one parent may have to pay child support or alimony payments to cover the costs associated with moving away. This could impact their finances as well as those of their former partner if said payments are required. Education may also become an issue in some cases depending on which school district is available near the new residence.
Parents may have different ideas about which schools are better suited to meet their child’s educational needs while being respectful of everyone’s financial capability. All of these matters need to be considered when discussing what happens if one parent decides to move away and how exactly this affects all parties involved.
How Will Disputes Be Handled?
When it comes to child custody agreements, conflicts are unfortunately inevitable. Oftentimes things will change for one or both of the parents over time, leading to struggles in adhering to the agreement. Further, there can be an attempt by one parent that is more hostile or inflexible than what was agreed upon at the time of creation. That is why it is important to answer this question even if you have already settled on an agreeable arrangement; how will disputes be handled?
In any situation, it’s much better for any dispute between parents to be managed without the need for parental interaction. If possible, the best way to handle a disagreement or conflict is through a mediator such as a lawyer or family court judge should one parent explicitly breach the agreed-upon custody agreement. It’s also important for each parent to remember their responsibilities when attempting to resolve issues – this includes always acting in your child’s best interests and refraining from making threats or “punishments” that don’t align with your previously agreed-upon plan.
How Often Will the Custody Agreement Be Reexamined?
Once a custody agreement is in place, it is important to make sure to have the option to review and possibly revise it. This is especially true if circumstances have changed for either party since the agreement was first made. For instance, if one parent decides they are going to move away or can no longer provide care as outlined in the initial agreement, either parent should consider reexamining the custody arrangement.
It is not uncommon for courts to order periodic reviews of existing custody agreements. When this happens, both parties must demonstrate why a revision may be necessary or how their current arrangement works well for everyone involved. This helps ensure that any child custody modifications made remain in everyone’s best interest and that all parenting rights were properly respected during the review process.
If both parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own, a court-mandated mediation session may be requested. Initially, it is best practice to reassess your custody arrangements every few years; however, this timeline can always vary depending on what each individual case calls for or if there are significant changes in one or both parents’ personal situations.
Contact an Experienced Child Custody Attorney Today!
At Greenville Family Attorneys, we are eager to help you reach a successful child custody arrangement. If you need help making a child custody decision, don’t hesitate to call our highly experienced lawyers to help you with your parentage matters. Our attorneys in Greenville, South Carolina are committed to helping our clients receive the best possible outcomes, and we can discuss your individual circumstances in further detail to develop a tailored approach that best meets your needs.