How Can I Prepare For My Child Custody Mediation Session?
Texas parents should prepare for child custody mediation sessions by identifying goals, finding common ground and using professional assistance.
One of the most difficult parts of getting divorced for many people is the fact that they have to divide time with their children between themselves and their former spouses, rather than being able to see them all of the time as they had previously. The local rules encourage divorcing couples to attempt mediation to resolve issues such as custody and parenting time disputes before resorting to final litigation, so mediation may be a means of narrowing the issues in a custody case and reaching a final resolution. However, parties are reminded that a mediator has no binding power to make either side settle their case. Consequently, in the area of child custody we see many cases require a final hearing. If you are a parent in Texas, you should be aware of some steps you can take to prepare yourself for a child custody mediation session.
One of the most important things that you can do prior to attending a child custody mediation session is to clearly identify any concerns you have with respect to custody arrangements, such as how to care for a child with special needs. After noting concerns, you should draft a proposed custody and time-sharing arrangement to bring to the mediation session as a means to begin negotiations. You may also want to write down any questions that you have.
Writing all of this information down may seem like a lot of work, but it will likely help you focus and remain on track during the mediation session. Having written material also helps ensure that you will not forget important matters you wish to address, which is easy to do in stressful situations.
Seek Common Ground
While it may seem like a waste of time to talk to your ex-spouse prior to a mediation session, you may want to try to talk to the other parent to see if there are any issues that you are in agreement on so that you do not need to discuss them in the mediation session. This allows you spend the time in the mediation session focusing on the issues that are causing contention. Also, narrowing the number of issues that need to be settled during the mediation session may make the process seem less overwhelming.
Utilize Professional Help
It may be helpful to see a professional counselor before the mediation session. A counselor can give you tips on how to communicate effectively under stressful circumstances and ways to respond to personal attacks your ex-spouse may launch in ways that do not escalate the situation.
It is also helpful to have the assistance of a skilled child custody attorney during the mediation process. An attorney can help protect your interests and make sure that the agreements that you and your ex-spouse reach are reasonable. If you have questions about child custody in Texas, speak with an experienced Texas child custody attorney who can explain your options to you.