The child custody mediation process can be emotionally difficult and worrisome. We know that you want what is best for your children and to ensure that their well-being is protected. As you work with a child custody mediator, we recommend paying special attention to the following issues.
These ten factors regarding your child’s life can have a significant influence on the outcome of a custody case:
- Prepare a visitation calendar: Attend the mediation with a calendar that indicates each night the child(ren) spent at you house in the past 12 months. Provide a calendar for prior years if you have that information. Start keeping that information if you have not already started this practice.
- List all your children’s former addresses: Bring the list of addresses since the children were born and a list of where your spouse or the other parent has lived. This may provide the mediator with insight regarding each parent’s stability.
- Work Schedules: Provide information about your current work schedule and anticipated work schedule.
- Know how each child is doing in school: Have a list of the schools each child attends and the years of attendance. Know the names of their teachers! Be able to describe any problems any of the children are experiencing in school: social or academic. Know whether a child has an IEP (an Individualized Education Plan).
- Know about each child’s health: This includes any mental health issues or learning disabilities. Are they due to start orthodontics? Know the names of doctors. If you attend medical appointments, know the dates for when you went to appointments with each child.
- Know what you want: Write out what custodial arrangement you want. For example, “I want the children to spend Sunday, Monday, Tuesday at my house; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the other parent’s house and we alternate Saturday night.” Or, “I think the children should spend one week with me, the next week with the other parent, and we exchange the children on Friday night.” Or maybe “I want primary physical custody and to have the children see the other parent every other weekend, or every Saturday morning until Sunday morning.” Or “I have primary custody during the school year and the other parent has the children each summer from one week after the end of school until one week before the start of the new school year.” There is no default schedule. A schedule is based on what is in the best interest of the children and you should tell the mediator what is best for them.
- Know about each child’s interests: What extra-curricular programs are the children enrolled in? How much do those cost and what is their attendance schedule? If you are unable to take them to their program, explain how they will get there during your custodial time.
- Spiritual Life: If you belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque, let the mediator know how often the children attend and what groups they belong to, i.e. choir, youth group, dance ministry, etc. You need to establish what commitments each child has in the community in order to describe how a move-out of their community might affect their well-being.
- Commitment to the Extended Family: Are your children’s cousins their best friends? Are they close with their aunts/uncles or grandparents? Know which extended family members the children see regularly.
- Social Life: Know the names of your children’s close friends. Know your children’s current interests. Be able to explain why it is important to continue with those friends and interests, or not.
If you need a trusted and experienced family lawyer on your side as you navigate child custody issues, please feel free to contact our firm to discuss your options. At Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey, P.A., we care about your family’s well-being and can help you work toward a favorable outcome.