Child custody agreements don’t have include bitter court battles; with the help of an experienced New York child custody mediator, you can achieve a custody and visitation schedule that is right for your family in just 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Choose the right mediator and have initial meeting
First, choose the best mediator for your needs. Your mediator should have experience mediating child custody cases similar to yours, be able to provide information and answer questions in an accessible way, and excel at both compromise negotiation and communication.
At your initial meeting, your mediator will discuss the mediation process including what to expect during future conversations, explain certain rules that apply to mediation such as confidentiality, and answer any questions you or your spouse may have.
Step 2: Identify your family’s custody issues
Second, every family situation is unique; therefore, every child custody mediation will be slightly different. Typically, however, most couples want to address the following custody issues:
- The overall custody and visitation schedule;
- Special circumstances, such as holidays, vacations, or necessary traveling for work;
- The “how” of the custody and visitation schedule, i.e., how will the parents communicate with one another and how the child’s transportation will be handled;
- The method by which the custody agreement and visitation schedule can be amended in the future; and
- Issues that are important to you and your family, such as participating in religious activities or attending a private school, and emergency circumstances like medical care or extended illnesses of the child or a parent.
Step 3: Agree on solutions to custody issues
The third step in the child custody mediation process is to agree on solutions to the issues that have been raised by both parents. To reach an agreement that works for everyone, it’s important to be open to compromise and refrain from rehashing old arguments and pointing blame. Your mediator will be able to help the couple communicate in a way that is productive and child-focused, increasing your chances of success.
Step 4: Sign and file the custody mediation agreement
Finally, once the parties have agreed on all the issues, the mediator will prepare a child custody agreement for each party to carefully review before signing and filing with the court. It’s important to note that the agreement is a legally binding contract and failure to abide by it can have serious consequences, including losing your custody and visitation rights. Therefore, it’s imperative that you check to make sure the agreement accurately reflects everything discussed during your mediation sessions before signing it.
Child custody mediation for New York families