Particularly with the trend in child custody cases being to encourage parents to cooperate, many judges will encourage or even order parents who are in the midst of a child custody or parenting dispute to try mediation as a way of resolving their disputes.
Many people believe that mediation is an ideal way to resolve child custody problems since it encourages parents to reach agreements and sets them on the road to developing a working relationship down the road. This is in the minds of many a way of helping children better deal with their parents' split.
Mediation also has several advantages for parents. In addition to saving time, stress and money, it also puts them in control of their own case.
Since a mediator cannot force either parent to accept an agreement, if a parent does not like the result of their custody issue, they can at least acknowledge that it was a compromise to which they agreed.
Basically, mediation will involve a neutral family law expert, often an attorney or family mental health professional. This mediator will work with each side, both together and, if needed, one-on-one, in an effort to get them to agree on their differences and come up with a workable parenting plan together.
The process is confidential in all respects, so if the mediation fails, neither party has to worry about the mediator giving away any secrets the party might have shared during the negotiation.
Mediation is not suitable for every child custody case. As an example, there are some situations in which domestic violence or other abuse is a factor that would make a fair mediation difficult if not impossible. In other cases, parents are so far apart that voluntary mediation is simply a waste of time.