When a couple’s relationship ends, things can become so bitter and emotional that people can think going to court is the only way to resolve the issues between them, including the custody and raising of any children from the union.
But fighting through the court is generally a drawn-out, costly and adversarial process that can emotionally damage the children, ruin a future civil relationship between the ex-partners, and produce an outcome that is not just and equitable to both parties.
Here are five reasons why participating in family law mediation to resolve child custody disputes is a better way forward.
- Mediation is less stressful because there’s less conflict
The mediation process empowers the former partners to discuss the relevant issues, canvass options to resolve them, and come up with their own mutually agreeable parenting plan to address child custody. Whereas mediation is collaborative in nature, pursuing your ex-partner through the court can create more conflict and distress for all members of the family. Mediation focuses the parties on finding a solution that works for both of them and, most importantly, is in the best interests of the children.
- It’s better for the kids
Adults often forget how much children notice and pick up when their parents fight. The worry about their living arrangements and the disruption to their normal routines when parents split up can be even more damaging. Unlike court, mediation provides a calm, child-focused environment in which the estranged adults can concentrate on what is most important: the best outcome for their children.
Court proceedings on child custody matters are often considered a chance for ex-spouses to air ‘dirty laundry’ about each other, which can get back to the children and further harm them emotionally. An experienced, neutral mediator ensures that the mediation process is constructive, not destructive, in finding a workable custody solution that keeps both parents present in their children’s lives.
- Mediation is meant to help both of you
Court decisions are often said to produce ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Lawyers fight for their client in order to get a result that is better for them than their opponent, or the ex-spouse. In contrast, mediation is designed to achieve a win-win situation. You might not achieve everything you’d like, in terms of custody of the children, but you can reach an agreement with your ex that you can both live with. The neutral mediator is there to help you reach this agreement by making no judgments and offering no opinions. Instead, the mediator facilitates an environment in which both parties feel comfortable to discuss the relevant issues, however difficult, and methodically work through them to find areas of agreement and hopefully, a mutually satisfactory resolution.
- Workable relationship into the future
When a couple has kids, they are bound together in caring for and raising them until they are of legal age, even if they separate. This means that whether they split up or not, they need to communicate with each other regularly about all the issues children will face, from health to education, recreation, religion, access to extended family members and much more. When couples fight through the courts, their relationship beyond the legal action is often destroyed by the whole experience. This deterioration impacts further on the children. One of the aims of family law mediation is to avoid this happening. Instead, by coming to an arrangement you both helped achieve through mediation, you can hopefully move on with your lives and deal with each other in a civil, constructive manner for the future benefit of the children.
- It makes dollars and sense
Everyone knows going to court is an expensive process. Lawyers who represent people in court don’t come cheap! Not to mention the time and stress involved. Mediation is in general much more affordable, requiring only the separated couple and a mediator, and can achieve a resolution more quickly. The result is a better outcome for the ex-partners and their children.
If you would like to further discuss any of the issues raised in this article, contact our expert Sydney mediation team today. Mediations Australia exists to help people stay out of court and resolve their issues in a faster, cheaper and more effective way.