It has become increasingly popular for spouses and co-parents to pursue mediation as the go-to method for resolving their differences on family law matters such as property division and child custody. This type of alternative dispute resolution aims to help two parties with seemingly divergent interests find their common ground.
When it comes to custody, both you and your spouse likely want to do what’s best for your child. If you know others who have been involved in child custody cases, then you’re likely aware that a judge will sometimes ask a child about their preferences in a custody case. You may be wondering if there’s any benefit to having your child participate in mediated sessions to voice their wishes.
What will the scope of the conversation be?
If you’re going to bring your child to mediation, then it should only be when the discussion is about them and their custodial preferences. There’s never any need for them to be brought into conversations about any other subject.
You should also only consider bringing them in for a short time to talk about their feelings and preferences as far as physical custody and visitation. It should go without being said that any mediation session that you plan to invite your child into should be carried out in a respectful and level-headed way. Remember that your child looks up to you as a role model and mimics your behaviors.
In addition, your child should also be of the age at which they can exercise independent thought and understand the implications of their choices for there to be value in them participating in these mediated sessions. If they can’t articulate the reason for their preferences, they shouldn’t be involved.
Finally, bringing a child to a mediation session even to express their preferences isn’t a good plan if either parent believes that the child may be intimidated by the process, unduly influenced by the presence of their parents or simply afraid of hurting one of their parents. In other words, this is something that has to be handled very delicately.
You may want to learn more about mediation and the impact divorce can have on a child as you decide whether to bring your child into session. This can be helpful as you look to prepare them for it.