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What benefits does custody mediation offer over going to court?

For many divorced parents, the main frustration with litigated child custody arrangements stems from the fact that a judge had the final say on how much time each parent could spend with the child. You have to remember, the primary concern of judges in New York is the best interests of the child, not the best interests of the parents. Thus, in some cases, a custody arrangement may appear less fair to one parent than the other.

If you're concerned this could happen to you, then mediation is an excellent alternative to traditional child custody proceedings. Here are five major benefits of choosing mediation over traditional litigation:

  1. Mediation is much less adversarial than going to court. When you work with an attorney-mediator, you can directly express your concerns while addressing custody arrangements. An attorney-mediator can help you manage your emotions so that you can focus on reaching an amicable custody arrangement with your former spouse.
  2. You remain in control of talks with the other parent. Custody mediation encourages parents to discuss their current conflicts and difficult issues in order to determine what is best for the child. Attorney-mediators can provide parents with the tools necessary to work through disagreements, create fair and equal time-sharing schedules and even make modifications to existing custody orders all without intervention from a judge - who does not know the situation as well as the parents do.
  3. Mediation is less expensive and takes less time overall. Saving money and resolving legal matters quickly are both considered major bonuses to divorcing couples, especially among those who have children. Quick resolutions mean you can get back to what's most important: your children.
  4. Legal counsel is still possible in mediation. Never feel like you have to sacrifice your right to legal counsel if you choose mediation. While an attorney-mediator gives you the benefit of having a neutral facilitator who is well-versed in the law and able to explain whether certain solutions are legally enforceable or not, their role is not to advise the parties or act as either parties' counsel. However, you are always free to consult with your own attorney for specific legal advice during the process.
  5. Mediation can set the tone for future talks with your former partner. As we already mentioned, attorney-mediators give parents the tools they need to work through their differences in order to best serve the needs of their children. These tools can be useful well beyond the mediation process, meaning parents can employ what they have learned to work through future issues that might otherwise lead to courtroom proceedings. 

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