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What Happens After Mediation for Child Custody?

Joseph A. DeWoskin, P.C. Nov. 28, 2023

Divorced parents with their son visiting MediatorChild custody mediation can be an overwhelming process. The uncertainty of what lies ahead, the emotional turmoil, and the worry about the final outcome can make this a particularly stressful time. It's normal to feel anxious about what's going to happen next and how the child custody agreements will be settled.

You don't have to face this alone. At Joseph A. DeWoskin, P.C., Attorney DeWoskin stands alongside his clients through every step of the mediation process. He understands the complexities involved in child custody disputes and provides trusted legal guidance to help protect your rights and the best interests of your children.

What Happens in Mediation?

Child custody mediation is a collaborative process where parents work together under the guidance of a trained mediator. The mediator acts as a neutral third party, helping parents discuss all aspects of their parenting plan such as visitation schedules, decision-making authority, and communication methods. They help facilitate open dialogue, encouraging parents to consider different perspectives and reach an agreement that prioritizes the best interests of the children. 

Notably, there are two types of child custody mediation: court-ordered and private. While court-ordered mediation is often mandated by the court and may be free or low-cost, private mediation gives parents more control over the process. This can often lead to a higher success rate in terms of reaching an agreement. Our attorneys can guide you on which type of mediation would be most suitable for your unique situation. 

End Results of Child Custody Mediation

Following the mediation process, several outcomes are possible. One such outcome is a full agreement, where both parents agree on all aspects of the parenting plan. This agreement is legally binding and can be submitted to the court for approval. 

Alternatively, a partial agreement may be reached where parents agree on some issues but not others. In such cases, the unresolved issues may require further negotiation or a court hearing. If no agreement is reached during mediation, the case may proceed to a court hearing where a judge will make decisions regarding custody and visitation based on the child's best interests. 

Parenting Plans

A parenting plan is a comprehensive document that outlines how parents will share custody and make decisions about their children. It's a roadmap of sorts, providing clear guidelines to help you navigate the journey of co-parenting. 

Here's what you should expect in a well-crafted parenting plan: 

  • Detailed Visitation Schedules: A solid parenting plan outlines when and how often the child will spend time with each parent. This can include weekdays, weekends, holidays, and special occasions. It's important that these schedules are as detailed as possible to avoid any confusion or potential conflicts. 

  • Decision-Making Authority: The plan should clearly specify who has the authority to make decisions about the child's health, education, and welfare. This can be equally shared between both parents or given primarily to one parent, depending on the circumstances. 

  • Communication Methods: How will you and your co-parent communicate about your child? Will it be through email, text messages, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? Your plan should outline the agreed-upon methods and frequency of communication. 

  • Special Considerations: Every child and family situation is unique. Your plan should take into account any special needs, preferences, or circumstances that pertain to your child. This could include provisions for medical care, educational support, religious upbringing, or other specific needs. 

  • Dispute Resolution: Conflict is inevitable in any co-parenting relationship. Your plan should include a mechanism for resolving disputes, whether it's through mediation, a parenting coordinator, or another agreed-upon method. 

  • Flexibility Clause: Life is unpredictable. Your plan should have a clause that allows for reasonable flexibility in case of unexpected events or changes in circumstances. 

  • Review and Adjustment Provision: As your child grows and circumstances change, your parenting plan may need to be adjusted. Include a provision for reviewing and modifying the plan as needed. 

Remember, the goal of a parenting plan is to provide consistency and stability for your child while minimizing conflict between parents. It's not about winning or losing, but about creating an environment where your child can thrive. So, when you're crafting your plan, always keep your child's best interests at heart. 

What Is a Visitation Agreement?

Visitation agreements, also known as parenting time schedules, outline when and how the non-custodial parent will spend time with the children. These agreements can be flexible or structured, based on the needs and preferences of the parents. A well-drafted visitation agreement can help ensure that the non-custodial parent maintains a strong relationship with their children. 

Legal Review and Approval & Court Submission 

Once a parenting plan or visitation agreement has been reached, it's crucial to have it reviewed by an attorney. Attorney DeWoskin can provide a thorough review to seek an agreement that is legally sound and fair. Following the legal review, the agreement can be submitted to the court for approval. The court will assess whether the agreement serves the child's best interests and may request modifications if necessary. 

Implementation and Compliance

Once the court approves your parenting plan or visitation agreement, it's time to implement it. This is where the rubber meets the road. You're shifting from planning and negotiation to real-life application. It's a significant transition and one that requires understanding, patience, and commitment.

It's essential to remember that this agreement is legally binding. Both parents are expected to adhere to the outlined terms. Non-compliance can have serious legal repercussions, such as being held in contempt of court. But beyond that, it's crucial for the well-being of your children. A stable, predictable routine can help them adjust to the new family dynamics and feel secure in their relationships with both parents. 

Trusted Legal Guidance

Child custody mediation can be a complex and emotionally charged process. Having trusted legal guidance is paramount to safeguarding your rights and the best interests of your children. At Joseph A. DeWoskin, P.C., the attorney has the knowledge needed to navigate child custody disputes and help you achieve a fair outcome. Attorney DeWoskin in Kansas City, Kansas, can walk you through the mediation process and beyond. Contact the firm today for a consultation.

He proudly assists clients in Kansas City, Kansas, and Johnson, Leavenworth, and Wyandotte counties in Kansas — and in Jackson, Cass, Clay, and Platte counties in Missouri.