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Five Signs Custody Mediation Won’t Work

Custody mediation is often the recommended way to create a parenting plan, but it does not suit all circumstances. You should probably not use custody mediation if any of the following apply.

  1. 1. The other parent is abusive
    Though some mediators are trained to deal with domestic violence, a few situations are too volatile for them to handle. You can confirm with a mediator, but mediation may not be for you if:
    ● There’s a protection order
    ● Mediation will re-traumatize the survivor
    ● The abuse survivor or their child is afraid of the other parent
    ● There’s an insurmountable power imbalance
  2. 2. The other parent doesn’t want to be part of the child’s life
    You cannot force the other parent to build a relationship with your child. Even mediation likely won’t convince them to change their mind if they’re against it. They may be willing to sign over custody, granting you sole physical and legal custody, though a judge will need to finalize it. Then you could skip mediation and resolve custody quickly.
  3. 3. The other parent has no desire to attend mediation
    Mediation won’t work if one parent is unwilling to cooperate. Both parents must sign a mediation agreement before mediation can begin. Even if they agree to mediate, negotiations will stall if they don’t participate in good faith. Mediating may be a waste of time and money if you go with an uninterested parent.
  4. 4. The other parent is selfish
    Custody mediation is meant to help you and the other parent prioritize your child’s needs to reach an agreement. If a parent negotiates based on their wants, perhaps because they’re a narcissist, it defeats the purpose of custody mediation. They may only agree to a proposal if they get something out of it — for example, giving you more time with the children so they pay less child support. That is not how custody mediation is supposed to work.
  5. 5. Neither parent is willing to compromise
    Some believe the mediator’s role is to make parents agree. In reality, mediators
    facilitate conversations to see if the participants can find common ground. Parents are more likely to meet in the middle rather than on one side of the fence. If your reason for pursuing mediation is to get everything you want without considering the other side’s proposals, it is not right for you.

Mediation requires cooperation
Think about your relationship with the other parent before trying custody mediation. If you can’t communicate, it will be difficult to walk away with a fair and child-appropriate agreement. You’ll also want to choose an experienced mediator who can discern the best ways to get you on the same page. The method you choose to reach a custody agreement impacts its success.


Zarira Love

In her three years of researching and writing for Custody X Change, Zarira Love has distilled the topics of child custody and parenting to make vital information accessible to all parents. She earned a BA in Creative Writing from SUNY Purchase College and currently resides in New York City. MORE >

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