California parents who are getting a divorce may run into some conflict over child custody. However, going straight to court and having a judge decide is not their only option. Parents can work with a mediator first to try to resolve their differences. Mediation has a number of potential advantages.
The litigation process is adversarial while the process of mediation is focused on collaboration. Mediation may be better for children because it creates less conflict, and a mediator's neutral approach ensures that both parents' concerns are heard. Mediation reduces the focus on blame and seeks instead to create a parenting plan that is in the child's best interests and with which both parents are happy.
This helps to reduce stress and puts parents' focus on the future instead of the past. Mediation can also help parents develop skills in conflict resolution and effective communication that will help them in the years of co-parenting ahead. Finally, mediation can be less expensive than litigation, and it aims toward a result that satisfies all parties. As long as there is not any abuse, children usually do better after a divorce when they are able to spend time with both parents.
This kind of family law negotiation may help parents shape a parenting plan that is flexible enough to allow changes as needed but thorough enough to cover areas of potential conflict. These areas might range from who is responsible for paying for and taking children to extracurricular activities to how long a parent has to wait to introduce the child to a new partner. Having an effective parenting plan may also mean that parents do not spend their time in court each time they need to make relatively minor changes in their agreement.