Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, and Board of Legal Specialization

How to Have A Successful Child Custody Mediation

Before a Court will have a hearing on your custody issues, you must attend child custody mediation. Different counties have different rules regarding how these mediations are conducted. In general, there are two types of mediations, namely confidential and recommending.

In Los Angeles County, mediations are confidential. This means that the mediator attempts to facilitate an agreement between the parties, but nothing from the mediation can be introduced into Court. As a result, the Court must make a decision based on the paperwork, evidence, and arguments of the parties and their attorneys.

In contrast, child custody mediations in Ventura County are recommending mediations. This means if the parties do not agree on a parenting plan, the mediator will recommend one and the court then considers the recommendation. The court can adopt the recommendation as a temporary order pending a hearing. This is usually requested if one of the parties does not like the recommendation.  Careful preparation for child custody mediation is essential.  If you find yourself in a child custody mediation, here are some things you need to know to be successful.

Never Preface a Phrase with the Words “I Want”

To have a successful child custody mediation, you should remember that this process is not about you. It is about your children. Sometimes things that parents want do not necessarily align with what is best for the children. You must always keep your children in mind and phrase your requests in such a way as to persuade the mediator that they are in your child’s best interest.

Never Refer to Your Child as “My son”, “My daughter” or “My child”

Referring to your child using a possessive pronoun is a sure red flag to mediators, attorneys, and judges. Instead, refer to your child by name or “our child.”

Never Discuss Finances in a Child Custody Mediation

To be successful during the child custody mediation process, you should avoid discussing your finances. The mediator does not care about your financial situation. The mediator is attempting to either secure an agreement on custody and visitation or make a recommendation. Financial issues are not meant for the mediator and you do not want the mediator to be under the impression that your motivation is financial rather than your child’s best interest.

File All of Your Paperwork in a Timely Manner

The Ventura County Local Rules state that mediators are to review timely filed paperwork. Make sure your paperwork is filed on time so the mediator knows and understands the issues and your position on them.

Do Not Bash the Other Parent in Mediation

A successful outcome to child custody mediation could hinge on your ability to move beyond past hurts and work for the best interest of your children. The more willing and able you are to co-parent, the better the impression you will make. Rude behavior, insults, and putdowns may make you feel better temporarily, but you could alienate the mediator whose recommendation carries substantial weight in court.

Always Attend Orientation

When you are assigned to child custody mediation, you will receive an orientation date which is on Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m. Do not blow this off. It is designed to help you have the best mediation you can have.

Dress Conservatively If Possible

Jeans, T-shirts, and tennis shoes feel good and are comfortable, but you must treat this process very seriously. Make sure you wear nice clothes and cover up piercings and tattoos.

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