Has your ex asked you to work out child custody with them? Or perhaps you want to come to an agreeable arrangement but you’re not quite sure where to start. Well, you’ll likely want to consider going to family law mediation. If you’re not sure what it is, how it works and whether you should consider the below.
What is family law mediation?
Family law mediation is a process where legal disputes relating to family matters are resolved with the help of a professional third-party mediator. This is a person who is tasked with remaining neutral and who is there to help facilitate discussion and help you come to amicable agreements. Family law mediation can help ex-partners to come to agreements about issues like child custody arrangements, visitation rights, child support and much more. There are a number of benefits to attending sessions with a mediator; mostly in that it gives people more control over the outcome of their arrangements and can save you a considerable amount of money compared to going to court. So, if your ex-partner has asked you to attend family law mediation, what should you do?
Consider if it’s the right course of action
Working with a mediator can be highly successful, but only if both parties are willing to work together to come to agreements and are ready to communicate openly. If there are serious issues like domestic violence involved, then you should instead proceed with the courts. If you think that you won’t be able to work together to reach and agreement then you’re likely better off simply attending court.
If you agree, respond in writing
If you are considering a request to go to family law mediation and you’d like to agree to attend then you should respond in writing. This will help you to document your willingness to work with them and reach agreements, should your case end up in court. If you choose to decline then you should carefully explain your reasoning in a written response. As long as you have valid reasons the courts won’t view you as uncooperative. If you are being combative simply to make your ex’s life more difficult, this is unlikely to be viewed favourably by the courts.
Understand the consequences if you refuse
If you have been asked to attend, or ordered to by a judge then you may be seen as uncooperative or even in contempt of a court order. Refusing to participate if you have been asked to by a judge could reflect poorly on you and could impact on your case if you are in court. If you haven’t been ordered to then there are not necessarily legal ramifications but it may come up later if you do attend court. Whilst you can’t be forced to participate it is a good idea to show that you are willing to try and work with your ex-partner, unless there is a good, valid reason not to (such as fearing for your safety).
What should you expect?
Sessions with a mediator will usually go for around two to three hours and usually start off with the mediator explaining their role in the process. A mediator will usually take some time to get to know you and your ex-spouse and the details of your marriage. They will usually then work with you to figure out what the main issues are that need to be addressed. Once the key points have been worked out the mediator will facilitate discussion and try to help you both to reach agreements that work for both of you.