Mediation is a growing trend in child custody and co-parenting cases in Washington. In mediation proceedings, you can sit down with your former partner and be guided through a process that helps bring both of your concerns to the front.
When should you consider mediation?
Consider mediation if you and your ex agree on shared custody but need to work out the details or if the two of you disagree on some custody issues but can often discuss things civilly. Even if you are arguing, mediation can help structure your argument, so it may be a good idea. Mediation also saves money. The court may also order you into mediation.
When should you avoid mediation?
When a couple is fighting and does not want to seek a shared resolution, letting the court decide may be a better idea. If you cannot civilly be in a room with your former partner without blowing your top, you may not be ready to enter the mediation process.
What is mediation like?
In a mediation session, you, your ex and a trained mediator will sit around the table for several hours coming to an agreement about the details of custody. It is good to bring a list of items you want to see addressed. The mediator is a neutral third party trained in leading discussions to decide on custody and support issues.
The mediator will work to engage both of you in a productive conversation toward creating an agreement that works for both of you. You can turn this agreement into a document to file with the court. If you cannot agree, you can at least let the court know you tried it.
Mediation leads to acceptable results many times. The worst-case scenario is that it fails, and then you both go back to the court where you started. However, most of the time, mediation can provide some benefit in helping both parents share their custody concerns.