Child Custody Mediation
Long court disputes cost you time and money. Avoid the excess stress with child custody mediation.
A mediator, like a negotiator, is someone who is neutral, used to resolve a conflict between parties to ultimately find a resolution. Perhaps one of the most common times for seeking mediation is during a child custody dispute. Child custody mediation is a smart option that focuses on the children.
In Australia, when we refer to the obligation each guardian has over each of their kids, we use the term parental responsibility. According to the Family Law Act, parental responsibility refers to all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law, parents have in relation to children.
Parental responsibility vs parenting orders
During disputes, many parents will assume the right to equally shared parental responsibility. Where both guardians make joint-decisions about the future welfare, education, health, religion of the youth, in addition to a variety of other areas. Future decisions should always be focused not only on what is best right now but also with a long-term view moving forward into the future. We should also note and caution here that equally shared input in decision making does not mean equally shared care time either. The common misconception is that there are rules dictating equally shared time. Responsibility may also come in the form of administering financial support.
Child custody mediation aims to find an equitable agreement that best suits the best interests of the youth. But it is the Family Court that will dictate the level of responsibility via a parenting order. In order to find the best arrangements during child custody mediation, it is therefore best for guardians to use this understanding as a guide in discussing arrangements.
For child custody mediation to begin between either party, a request must be formally made, usually in writing. Unless a family court judge has dictated otherwise, all parties must freely consent to child custody mediation. Usually this approval is made via writing with denial requests containing valid reasoning behind their decision. Whilst there are no penalties for refusing your request if no court order has been made, even if the other party denies your request, this can be used later in court to show a lack of cooperation.
In circumstances where courts have ordered for child custody mediation, parties must attend at least one meeting to demonstrate willingness to find resolution. Failing to do so will place you in contempt, meaning you are refusing to participate in court. Usually when this occurs, court-ordered decisions will swing against you.
Prior to meetings
With any negotiation, preparation is key. The more knowledge you expose yourself to, the better your odds for a favourable outcome. Have a list of key points you wish to address and wish to discuss. The reasoning for this is twofold. Firstly, clearly knowing what issues you intend to resolve will allow you to stay on topic. You avoid talking about any other unnecessary issues. On this list, also include any concerns you may have. Secondly, putting thoughts on paper will get you to really carve out what you wish to achieve. Inversely, it is important for you to consider the other viewpoints of those involved.
As with any other discussions, remain calm and clear-headed, conducting yourself in a courteous professional manner. As previously mentioned, focus on the best interest of your kids as you make decisions. Crucial to child custody mediation, is setting aside any personal conflicts which may also interfere with thought processes. Where possible, it may be appropriate to have a support person during proceedings.
You should go into the meeting expecting to compromise on some of your proposed plans and schedules but working multiple approaches beforehand will help you navigate this. Thinking about problems and possible solutions prior, will help you prepare for this. Once any agreements have been made, mediators are able to assist in creating a formal written agreement.
Preparation goes hand in hand with organisation. Gather all your important documents together early and carefully consider what evidence you will use. It is always best to seek legal advice during this process whenever you are concerned.
Child custody mediation can easily become an overwhelming task. Speak to our child mediators at O’Sullivan Mediation.