When a divorce is contentious and a couple cannot agree on how to settle their disputes, it is common for them to take the matter to court and let the attorneys battle it out. However, when children are involved and child custody matters are at stake, many parents do not want to add more drama to an already stressful situation. Nevertheless, one parent may resist taking the matter to alternative dispute resolution such as mediation. This may be because he or she does not fully understand the benefits of using mediation to resolve difficult issues.
California requires couples to at least try ADR before heading to court. It is often in the best interests of the child for parents to make every effort to succeed at mediation. A parent who resists may give the court the impression that he or she will not be willing to cooperate as a co-parent. This could have serious ramifications, such as reduced time with the kids or even a charge of contempt of court.
On the other hand, the mediation process is less formal than litigation, and parents have more control over the outcome. Because of this, many parents learn through mediation that they can communicate with their former partners when the children’s best interests are at stake. Often, this is best accomplished by approaching the mediation process with a list of reasonable expectations.
Parents usually have more success with mediation when they take the time to learn about the process and work with a skilled attorney. Having individual lawyers allows each parent to obtain advice and guidance for making effective compromises while protecting their rights. An attorney with experience in ADR methods can be an invaluable asset.