Custody Disputes and Mediation: Things You Need to Consider

4319294397_999f466d8cDivorce and break-ups are difficult. For those going through this time, whether it be a relationship break up or a marriage, this gets even more difficult for those with children.

Many couples are faced with custody disputes. Part of the process is mediation between the parents. In North Dakota, if your case involves a child or children, you will more than likely be ordered to attend mediation through the Family Law Mediation Program. The state pays for 6 hours of the mediator’s time, and you will be required to attend. Here are a few things that you should consider and think about prior to mediation.

Your Child Comes First

It is important for both parties to remember, your child’s needs and best interest come first. Focus on their needs, not your own. Where will they feel safe? Where are their friends? Who is emotionally ready to best handle single parenting?

Don’t Get Personal

It can be easy to get stressed, frustrated and angry with your ex, but it is important to remember to try to stay calm. Your etiquette, maturity and professionalism can go a long way when it comes to a judge’s rulings. Dress appropriately when you come to mediation, be prepared, and leave your personal issues with your ex at home.

Be Prepared

When the time for mediation or meeting with an attorney comes, be sure that you are prepared. Bring all of the information that you need with you. This includes:

  • Your work schedule.
  • Your children’s activity schedules.
  • School holiday calendars.
  • A proposed parenting plan.

Watch What You Say

With technology and social media, many people end up shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to venting their frustrations. Be careful about what you say about your ex on the phone, to friends, on social media, and through text messages. If these are recorded and shared, you can find yourself in a negative position. It is better to be overly cautious than sorry.

Save Everything and Keep a Journal

On the flip side of watching what you say, it is important to save everything and keep a journal. Keeping a journal is a great way for you to “vent” your frustrations, and it can also help you track documents and events with accuracy. Keep email messages, telephone recordings, receipts, court orders, and more. These may come in handy during mediation.

If you aren’t sure where to start, it may be in your best interest to speak with a family law attorney.  Tracy Lyson and the Family Law team at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss have years of experience and can help you through this difficult process.

Image courtesy of Flickr/Frederic de Villamil
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