How to Prepare for Child Custody Mediation

Custody mediation can be a great tool for parents to work out their custody issues. To get the most out of mediation, it's important for parents to prepare. Here is how to prepare so that your mediation session goes better.

Research the custody laws and guidelines in your state. You can go online, visit the library, or go to the courthouse to find information about how you should set up your agreement. Find this out before you come up with a custody plan so that you know it is acceptable.

Before the day of custody mediation, take some time to think about what type of custody arrangement is best for the child and what will work for you.

Write down a basic outline of what you envision for the custody arrangement. The first part of this is to think through which parent should have custody or if the parents should share joint custody. Write down why you think your suggestions are the best and how they will work.

Next come up with some ideas for a custody and visitation schedule. You want to have a few variations to show the other parent. It is most likely that the schedule will change because the other parent will have input, but it's important to have somewhere to start. Create a few repeating cycles that are acceptable for you.

Write out how you want to handle visitation issues. For example, think about the transportation of the child to and from visits. What parent will be responsible for that? Would it be better to have a neutral meeting spot?

Write down any other issues you want to discuss and resolve with the other parent. You will want to think of a way that the parents can communicate with each other about the children, any provisions you want the other parent to agree to about raising the child, how you will divide up extra expenses and handle things financially, etc. Write down some tentative plans for these so you have a place to start the discussion.

Keep all of your information organized and together--perhaps in a folder. On the day of mediation, dress professionally and bring all of your documents.

Don't stress or worry about your mediation session. If necessary, do some relaxation techniques (deep breathing, etc) before the session. Remember that you want to create an arrangement that works for the children. Go into the mediation session with an open mind and a willingness to be flexible.