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How Can Divorced Parents Use Mediation to Settle a Custody Dispute?


Divorce is a painful process to go through in life  and it’s more difficult when children are involved. Not only do parents have to settle disputes on the property but child custody as well. All those involved feel the pain as the issues for child custody are fought over in court. Different media portray the effects of divorce and custody disputes on children. However, the reality of divorce and child custody is often more painful than what’s on screen.

Luckily, couples can get help to work toward solutions somewhere other than the court, like mediation lawyers. Child custody mediation helps parents who can’t agree on anything related to child custody. This will also save them the emotional and financial costs of court battles.

Here you get more about mediation and how divorced parents can use it to settle custody disputes so that you can  also differentiate mediators from arbitrators so you’ll have a clearer picture. That way, you’ll see more options to discuss divorce proceedings than going to court.

What is Mediation in Law?

Child custody mediation involves both parents meeting with the mediator to evaluate their case. They review the facts and make recommendations about how custody should be divided. Child custody tends to be very complicated, so mediation lawyers are necessary for it to go smoothly. They’re neutral parties who assess your situation objectively without emotional involvement. 

While the mediator is an attorney, each parent should still be represented by one. Their lawyers will apprise them of the terms and custody agreements as a result of the mediation. It’s important that neither parent is waiving their rights in this dispute. Keep in mind that divorce mediation can also include a child custody agreement. That way, you won’t need to seek different mediation lawyers for divorce and child custody. 

In this process, each parent should have already discussed their wishes about custody with their lawyers. That way, they will go into the mediation with well-defined expectations. It’s important to remember that mediation is supposed to determine an arrangement for the child. Hence, both parents need to be open to different suggestions and talk to the mediator with an open mind.

What is the Difference: Mediator vs Arbitrator?

Couples can get confused about the difference between getting an arbitrator or a mediator. That’s why let’s talk about the difference between the two so you’ll see which one you prefer.

Mediation is all about bringing parties together to find solutions to conflict. It’s an alternative process that gives you many advantages instead of going to court. The mediation lawyer is a neutral third party that will facilitate a productive conversation. They help both parties clarify their interests and concerns about the conflict. 

Both parties retain control of the whole process, like the format, its attendees, and resolution. It’s also a confidential proceeding in a less intimidating environment compared to a courtroom. Hence, both parties can be more relaxed and reach a level-headed resolution with the mediation lawyer.

It’s important to keep in mind that mediators don’t make the decisions or rulings, like a judge. They only help the parties create a voluntary agreement. When an agreement has been reached, they will sign a binding contract. However, if they can’t reach an agreement, they pursue another kind of ADR or take it to court.

This is where an arbitrator comes in because arbitration relies on a third party to determine the results. An arbitration also happens outside the courtroom and it involves a neutral third party, like mediation. However, the arbitrator is a private judge that listens to the evidence and makes rulings. It’s a less formal courtroom trial with a set of procedures that apply to both parties. Whatever the arbitrator decides will be final and binding for both parties and appealing afterward is very limited.

What are the Benefits of Mediation?

1.   It’s More Cost-Efficient

Getting divorced can cost a fortune but mediation is a cheaper and faster option than going to court. Many couples end up depleting their life savings in divorce proceedings and matrimonial disputes. However, many of these matters can be resolved at only a fraction of the cost by calling for a mediation lawyer.

This is a big help in custody disputes because you won’t have to worry about your budget as much. Your mediation lawyer will help you reach an agreement for child custody, not just your divorce. And because there’s no big financial pressure, you can have a level-headed discussion and agreement.

2.  It’s More Flexible

If you opt to take it to court, you can expect it will take a long time before the process continues. A judge has several cases on their calendar, so they need to decide when to hear your case. 

However, mediation lawyers allow parties to voice out their schedules and how the case will be heard. The proceedings can be hybrid wherein some people participate in person and others remotely. This ensures your child won’t be anxiously waiting for results unlike if you take the case to court.

3.             There’s Continuity and Time-Efficiency

Once a case goes to trial, you might encounter major disputes about finances and child custody. This can take weeks and drawing it out will impact your finances, job performance, and mental health. Your overall well-being and relationships will be affected too which isn’t good for everyone involved.

However, mediation respects your time which means it won’t affect your work, children, and life as much. The mediation lawyer will establish rapport with both parties to keep the conversation going. You can schedule day-to-day meetings when the parties are available, so you can agree on a settlement soon.


Divorce filing can be a stressful and draining process, especially when taken to court. However, mediation can make it less painful and less drawn out for the parties involved. It’s more cost-effective and time-efficient for both parties instead of bringing it to court. Mediation lawyers can also settle child custody disputes, so you won’t have to manage that separately.

Mediations are all about helping both parties arrive at a voluntary resolution. The mediator doesn’t decide the results, they only help you get to what you need. However, keep in mind that once you sign the contract, it’s binding. The great part is it’s what both you and your partner agreed on for both your sake and your child’s.

Written by Amy rey

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