Take control of mediation with multiple plans and handouts.
When a court assigns parents to go to mediation, many moms and dads do so reluctantly. They’re convinced that “he’s a fighter and he won’t agree to anything” or “she’s thinks fathers are incapable of raising children. It’s a waste of time.”
But there is a way to win at mediation! Most mediations begin with some opening remarks from the mediator, and then it’s up to the parents to begin telling their side of the story. The wrong thing to do is to recount all of the deep history of the relationship, to spend time criticizing each other and to try to “win” with the mediator (who doesn’t make any decisions about the outcome of the case anyhow).
To truly “win” at mediation, get prepared in advance with at least three different custody and parenting plans that you approve of. Design them yourself. If you’re represented by an attorney, meet a day in advance and devise the parenting plans in detail. Put the three proposals on paper, and lay them out succinctly. It may help to attach a calendar or a table depicting how the custody and visitation schedule will unfold.
When you arrive at mediation, gracefully take control of the process as soon as the mediator invites the parties to start exchanging ideas. Hand out your proposals — start with “Plan A” — and discuss your reasons for making this proposal. By coming prepared with three written proposals and taking the initiative to circulate them in written form, you’ll essentially be controlling the discussion. Even if you don’t get exactly what you wish for, chances are that the mediation will proceed along a course that you laid out. Indeed, the final resolution will more than likely be built upon one of your proposals, or some variation thereof.
Jump right in with the proposals when the mediation begins. This will allow the parents to get down to business “mediating” right away. No sense fighting over stale issues. The mediator is not a judge, and nothing can be gained from using the process as a forum to vent your frustrations. Plus, when you jump right in with the parenting proposals, you’ll save time and money with the mediator. The process should move more quickly and efficiently.
Let me know if you’ve had good or bad experiences in mediation, and why?