Courts make child custody and visitation decisions based on the “best interests of the child.” The child’s health and safety are of paramount concern. Most child custody laws favor the concept of preserving the family unit with children maintaining strong relationships with both parents.
Mediation gives the parties the ability to work out a schedule that fits their specific needs. Judges will award custody to one party and rarely have the time to customize a visitation schedule for litigants. “Joint Custody” is only available by agreement. “Cookie cutter” court orders are never the best option for parents or children.
Mediation allows parents to set their own schedule with details and provisions that judges can’t. Keeping control of the process is extremely valuable and makes the process much easier on children,
When parents are unable to resolve custody disputes amicably on their own, and the case goes before the courts, the judge will consider the following elements when determining the best interest of the child:
- Mental and physical health of the parents and child
- If the child has any special needs
- The age of the child
- If there are allegations of domestic violence
- Parents’ employment responsibilities and work schedules
- The child’s parental preference, depending on his or her age
- Stability of each parent’s home environment
- The quality of the child’s relationships with both parents and other members of the family
- The level of cooperation between parents in making major decisions for the child
- The geographical distance between both parents’ residences
Avoiding the uncertainty of a Judge’s decision through mediation provides peace of mind during what is always a difficult time