The first state to require visitation or child custody disputes to be mediated is California. Though there have been concerns that such mandatory mediation may in some circumstances place certain individuals in an uncomfortable situation or be put in an unequal bargaining position, most couples that participate will take something away from the process.
Individuals participating need to be open to the goals of having these matters mediated. They also must be willing to negotiate with the other spouse rather than view the entire divorce process as one in which there can only be one winner. Those that prove to be uncooperative are actually only a small share of those that are working through a divorce, however.
Since California has put the mandatory mediation statute in place most child custody disputes have been resolved without couples feeling the need to instead go to court. An advantage of divorce mediation is that it can be geared towards the needs of the entire family including those of the children. Mediation has been shown to be effective even in situations where there have been a large number of disputes.
An experienced divorce mediation attorney can help individuals heal their wounds and resolve disputes in creative ways. The reason why this is true is because the mediation process can often prove to be less contentious and costly than deciding to have the entire matter hashed out at trial.
Even for more emotionally difficult individuals mediation can prove beneficial if the process is structured and focused. Attorneys can also provide guidance to couples who have struggled through the divorce process or who may not always understand why this process has been put in place.
Source: Huffington Post, "Must Parties Confirm That They Are Open to Settlement For Mediation to Be Effective?" Mark Baer, April 2, 2014