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Can you mediate child custody issues?

Parents in Minnesota must work together when raising their child, and this remains true even if parents decide to divorce. Unfortunately, divorce doesn't always bring out the best in people, and arguments regarding child custody may surface. Some parents might think the only way to resolve a child custody dispute is to go before a court and have the judge issue an order. However, there is another option that may be available to some: mediation.

Mediation can take place during the divorce negotiations. It is an out-of-court, non-adversarial way for parents to hash out their differences and try to reach a resolution to their child custody issues. Mediators are professionals, but they do not advocate for either side. Since it is a neutral situation, mediation may not pose as much of a threat as traditional litigation, meaning that parents may be more willing to compromise. This may also make it so that parents are able to express their opinions and feelings.

That being said, if two parents have a very toxic relationship with one another, they do not need to communicate face-to-face through mediation. They can stay in separate rooms and it is the mediator who can go between the parents as they work through their child custody issues.

It is also possible that going through mediation can resolve issues in a more timely fashion than what could happen should the case go to trial. Mediation can last a couple weeks. In comparison, it could take much longer for a case to resolve itself through traditional litigation.

No matter how contentious, messy and emotional a divorce is, it is important to keep the best interests of the child first. Parents may have their own issues with each other, but they should keep those issues between themselves. Working together through mediation to create an agreed-upon parenting plan can help both parents and children move forward after the divorce.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody Mediation FAQ," accessed April 18, 2016

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