All California courts require parents who have disputed custody issues to attend mediation with a court-appointed mediator prior to attending a hearing. If you and the other parent reach an agreement in mediation, then it will become a court order. If you cannot, then the mediator will prepare a recommended order, which the judge will then likely adopt as a formal court order. Here are some tips to help you prepare for mediation:
- Talk about your kids, and only your kids. Do not talk about money, child support, or spousal support. Your kids are why you’re in court. Keep the focus on them 100%.
- Come in to mediation with a plan for what you want. Type up a list of each issue you want to talk about before you go in, and bring it with you. Mediation can be emotional, especially if the other parent is in there with you, so having notes to refer to in order to stay on track is important and helpful.
- Don’t get sidetracked by the other parent. The mediator, and judge for that matter, is not interested in how you view the faults of the other parent. The only question that needs to answered is what custodial schedule is the children’s best interest.
- Be open to compromise. If you are unwilling to compromise on a certain issue, then you are putting the ultimate decision in the hands of a judge who can only devote 15-20 minutes of his/her day to your case. You need to decide whether or not you are ok with taking that risk.
I have helped hundreds of clients prepare for mediation at the courthouse. Feel free to call/email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your options and prepare the best strategy for your case. Also, here is an interesting article with good tips for co-parenting during and after a divorce: http://www.divorcemag.com/blog/ways-to-support-child-s-adjust-to-co-parenting