One of the interesting aspects of divorce litigation is the requirement that parents mediate their child custody issues, with the judge assigning a mediator in the initial weeks of the case should the parents not have an agreement as to legal custody (joint vs sole) and parenting time. In some cases mediation is beneficial. I am a trained mediator, but I can also say that mediation is not a panacea, it is not always a process that results in resolution. Many times, mediation fails. So, when the parents are bitterly oppositional, or when the issues are just not amenable to mediation, what should a parent do?
One piece of advice that I give my clients is to be, along with a good spokesperson for their views, a good listener. Many divorces feature parents that simply don’t want to talk to each other, and avoid interaction at all costs. Even when mediation is not likely to result in global agreements on custody and parenting time, it can be a time to listen to what the other parent is verbalizing to the mediator. New facts might be learned. Partially hidden agendas might be revealed. Concessions might be explored.
Keep in mind…everything said in mediation is private and none of the matters discussed in mediation can be used in court.
Once you’ve stated your issues and concerns and goals, there’s one more thing a parent might consider in mediation. Listening. Listen and learn, and if the case comes back to court, you’ll be back in the court process empowered with a better sense of agendas, goals, what is in dispute and what is possibly resolvable.