Whether a couple is entering custody mediation at the request of a judge or on their own initiative, both parties should go into the process prepared to ask — and answer — as many questions as possible. Doing so helps both sides better understand what the other wants and where there is room for negotiation.

Here are some of the things that can be addressed during custody mediation:

The custody and visitation schedule

A court-ordered custody and visitation schedule often leaves both parties unhappy and can lead to noncompliance because it isn’t reflective of the family’s real needs. In mediation, however, couples can generally propose any agreement that works for them as long as it is reasonable.

Walking into mediation with several possible custody and visitation schedules can be a helpful starting point as long as there’s room for negotiation.

Parenting provisions that need to be settled

Mediation can also help parents anticipate future problems and decide how to address them fairly. Some of the things that should be discussed include:

  • Vacations out of the state (or country) with the kids
  • How emergency changes in visitation or custody should be handled
  • The process for negotiating a temporary change in the schedule
  • Holiday visitation, birthdays and other special events
  • Electronic communication, e-visits via Skype and phone calls

Parents are also free to discuss anything else they may feel is important to put on the table, making mediation a particularly flexible way to address their concerns.

It’s hard not to be anxious about discussing custody provisions, but stepping up to the negotiation table with some clear ideas and a few talking points can help you stay focused and calm. Find out more about how mediated custody agreements can benefit your family today.