When you and your spouse -- soon-to-be your ex -- cannot agree on a child custody arrangement yourselves, you typically have to go to court and a judge will rule. However, that puts the decision-making power entirely in the judge's hands, which makes some people nervous.
Another option is to consider mediation. A neutral third party works with you to help you and your spouse communicate and compromise, but he or she does not make any rulings. You still get to agree on a plan that you approve of, and then it gets submitted to the court for approval.
The main clear benefit is that you maintain control. You do not get cut out of the children's lives simply because a judge -- who doesn't know you or your family -- thinks it's best. Some other benefits include:
- Learning how to communicate with your ex, something that will be important after the divorce is finalized
- Reducing the stress that your family feels during a trying time
- Making the entire process a lot easier for the kids to endure, without the conflict in court where children sometimes feel more like possessions than people
- Staying away from the "blame game," which can lead you or your ex to say things you will regret
Child custody can quickly become one of the most acrimonious of all divorce topics. By using mediation to come to an agreement, you can use creative options that may never come up in court. A judge may not be willing to think outside of the box, but you can think about what is really best for your children.
Before you get divorced or head to court, it is important to really understand all of your options and how they can impact the child custody case.
Source: The Spruce, "10 Reasons to Try Child Custody Mediation," Jennifer Wolf, accessed April 05, 2018