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How Do I Prepare for Mediation in a Custody Dispute

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Preparation with your attorney is especially important in all phases of your case,
but one such event involves the mediation process in a custody case.  How to prepare could be critical in your case.  Here are some tips that you may find helpful.

Family Code section 3170 authorizes the mediation of custody and visitation
matters.  More than half of the counties in California have a confidential counseling session and the other half is non-confidential.  The difference in confidential versus non-confidential is that in a non-confidential county what is said and what is done in the mediation conference can be reported in some manner to the court and the mediator can make recommendations to the court.  It is for that reason that a conference with the attorney is critical in helping you prepare.

Some of the tips for mediation are as follows:

1. Enter into the mediation with the intent to try and settle your custody case, but
do not feel forced into reaching a settlement just to please the counselor.  The counselor will probably spend no more than an hour if that with you and the
other party (the parents).  That mediator depending on the county may not even have read any of the declarations or pleadings.  For that reason that mediator will not be able to examine fully the circumstances surrounding your particular situation.  Therefore it is important that you be prepared to submit your agenda to that mediator to best position yourself for a settlement.

2. Create a timeshare plan that you feel represents the best for the child(ren). Include that you propose this timeshare on a 24/7 calendar.  Essentially you need to be able to tell the mediator what you feel the best timeshare is for the child(ren) and why you believe that that is best for the child(ren).  Include in that timeshare proposal not only why you think it is best for the child(ren), but how you will facilitate the plan 24/7.

3. Take with you to the mediation in a separate folder all of the sworn declarations that raise the issue of custody, both yours and the opposing party’s. Be able to identify any particular allegations.

4. List all of your concerns about the other party’s parenting.

5. NEVER say to the mediator that there is nothing positive about the other parent in the mediation. This is a sure fire way to get on the wrong side of the
mediator.

6. ALWAYS keep your composure during the mediation. Obviously there is a
lot of anxiety that goes into being in a room with the other party.

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