Why Choose Mediation to Determine Child Custody and Parenting Time?

Mediators don’t make decisions but they can help couples work through issues outside of the courtroom by facilitating a discussion.

By Allison Fredrickson

The determination of child custody/parenting time is often the most highly charged topic in a family law case. The following items are titled the “best interests standard” for determining custody and get discussed and weighed in mediation and allow for a conversation with both parents about what best suits their family:

  • The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to custody;
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;
  • The child’s primary caretaker;
  • The intimacy of the relationship between each parent and the child;
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with a parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home;
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child in the child’s culture and religion or creed, if any;
  • The child’s cultural background;
  • The effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if related to domestic abuse, that has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual, whether or not the individual alleged to have committed domestic abuse is or ever was a family or household member of the parent; and
  • Except in cases in which a finding of domestic abuse has been made, the disposition of each parent to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact by the other parent with the child.

The courts are always looking for a parenting time and custody arrangement that best suits the needs of the children and keeps both parents involved in caring for them in significant ways. When joint custody is sought, the court can look at four additional factors when deciding whether it is appropriate. Mediation allows for parties to discuss these items in an open environment, concerns, ways to be flexible, etc.

  • The ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their children;
  • Methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life of the child, and the parents’ willingness to use those methods;
  • Whether it would be detrimental to the child if one parent were to have sole authority over the child’s upbringing; and
  • Whether domestic abuse has occurred between the parents.

Judges are often heard saying that they are NOT the best people to decide what is best for your family, the parents are. They will make a decision if they have to, but the parents are best suited to decide what is best for their children, they are the ones that are most invested and know all the nuances of their schedules, lives and needs of their individual children. That is why it is important to sit down together to talk about your children and what is best for them and to be open to modifying those arrangements in mediation in the future if circumstances change. Children get older, they get busier, they get jobs, they have a license, parents move, they change jobs, they get remarried and all of those things might mean a change to a schedule that worked in the past.

It is much more cost effective and less damaging to a relationship between co-parents to sit down and talk about these kinds of changes and find a mutually agreeable solution to a parenting plan for your children.


questions about this topic?

If you have any questions about child custody, parenting time or mediation, please contact our family law attorney Allison Fredrickson at 651-439-2878 to discuss your options.

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyze your use of our website, and assist with our promotional and marketing efforts. Read our Privacy Policy for more information.