Mediation in Child Custody Disputes

Family Law Attorney Assisting Residents of Bergen County and Surrounding Areas

Often the most difficult and wrenching part of a divorce occurs when parents cannot agree on a custody and parenting time plan. Since the New Jersey Family Court system is fully aware of the difficulties that parents may encounter in resolving child custody matters, it frequently refers parents to mediation. If you need assistance in negotiating a child custody dispute Bergen County child custody lawyer Brian D. Iton can assist you. His extensive experience helping residents of Northern New Jersey in these sensitive matters can assist you in pursuing your custody goals.

What is Involved in Child Custody Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party—the mediator—assists parents in resolving disagreements or conflicts in child custody matters. While not every child custody case is referred to a mediator, there are circumstances in which the court may conclude that mediation is an appropriate vehicle for resolving the dispute.

It is not the mediator’s job to choose whose plan ought to be adopted. Instead, the mediator’s job is to act as a facilitator for both of the parties so that they can reach an agreement that they can accept. Child custody mediators are extremely knowledgeable about all of the legal and practical issues involved in child custody. A mediator can highlight potential problems or oversights in a proposed plan and suggest alternatives. They can help each party thoroughly evaluate every aspect of any proposed parenting plan, and they will try to help the parties address how contingencies or changes in circumstances will be handled if they arise in the future. Importantly, mediators help neutralize the emotional turmoil that often accompanies child custody negotiations, since the parties can communicate to and through the mediator, rather than directly with each other.

Depending on the nature and number of the matters that are in dispute, the mediation process may be concluded in one session. In other situations it may take longer. Both parties must prepare adequately for their mediation session in order to use the mediator’s services effectively. The parties should know what custody and parenting plan they prefer, and they should be able to state why they think that it is in the best interests of the children.

The parties do not need to pay any fees for mediation services offered through the family court, and the matters discussed in mediation are confidential. The parties’ attorneys do not attend mediation, nor do the parties’ children.

If the mediation is successful, and the parties are able to successfully negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to both of them, the mediator will prepare a consent order or memorandum of understanding that outlines all of the terms of the agreement. This order or memorandum is then submitted to the court. Once it is signed by the judge, it becomes a legally enforceable order.

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement resolving their differences through mediation, the matter will be referred back to the court for a custody and parenting time evaluation in advance of a hearing.

Contact a Bergen County Lawyer for a Child Custody Matter

As a method of resolving child custody disputes mediation is often more satisfactory than court proceedings. Mediation allows the parties to fashion their own resolution through compromise. By reaching their own agreement rather than having a court impose an order parents who successfully mediate their cases retain more control of their family situation. Bergen County child custody attorney Brian D. Iton is ready to assist you with any matter relating to child custody, including pre or post mediation. Call us at (201) 731-3086 or toll-free at (844) 431-3380, or use our contact form to set up your free consultation with a family law attorney. Brian D. Iton represents people in Hackensack, Paterson, Newark, Jersey City, and other cities in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, and Hudson Counties.