Maybe you believe that your spouse’s parenting style is less than effective and undermines your own. Or, perhaps the end of your marital relationship has been so charged with negative emotions, you and your spouse are no longer able to communicate. Whatever the issue is that has led to the conflict, the outcome is an ongoing dispute over child custody.

You know that your custody dispute could negatively affect your child. Can mediation neutralize enough of the conflict to allow you and your spouse to work together?

The role of the mediator

One of the best things about negotiating with your spouse with a mediator present is that this professional is completely neutral. You can trust that he or she will not take sides against you. You can also trust that the mediator understands the court system, and any suggestions he or she makes will be based on realistic outcomes.

So, for example, if the mediator explains that the judge is not likely to give you sole legal and physical custody, it is not an attack on your parenting style; it is simply a fact. With that in mind, it may make it easier for you and your spouse to come up with a parenting plan that the judge will approve.

The positive effects of mediation

The mediator will present you with various conflict resolution methods as you and your spouse attempt to negotiate. Often, parents are able to carry the cooperation tactics they learned in mediation into their post-divorce relationship, smoothing the way for peaceful co-parenting. This can make your life easier, and it can also reduce the stress your child may experience.

The shortfalls of mediation

There are circumstances that may make mediation an ineffective tool, such as when one spouse has bullied the other or subjected him or her to verbal or physical abuse. If your spouse is not acting in good faith and lies or hides facts during mediation, a fair outcome is doubtful. Because litigation legally requires full disclosure, this may be the best route in these cases.