Do you want to know the benefits of mediation vs litigation? If you go to trial, a judge will decide what’s best. That means a judge could be deciding what’s best for your children – and you’d have to abide by that decision. No one knows your children better than you and your spouse do. That means the question of child custody is often best suited to mediation. Can you and your spouse work together, with your attorneys, toward decisions that put your children’s interests first? How will you handle holidays, birthdays, and other milestones? Where will they go to school and where will they live?
When negotiating child custody, you need to think far into the future and be sure to bring up every concern. With your spouse, you should discuss:
- Your schedules and availability.
- Your expectations for the child’s religious upbringing and education.
- Your ideas for dividing weekends, holidays, and summers.
- Depending on your situation, you may also want to discuss any plans to move out of the area or out of state.
Mediation vs Litigation | Exceptions
Be prepared to give and take, but don’t think of this as bargaining or bartering (between the two of you). Instead, think of it as planning together toward a common goal: the upbringing of your children after the divorce.
In some situations – for example, where domestic abuse is involved – mediation may not be the best course. In any case, you want an attorney you can trust to help guide you – and your children – through the process of deciding child custody.
Mediation vs Litigation | What the Judge Looks At
If left up to the courts, a judge will consider the following factors in deciding child custody:
- The parents’ willingness to accept custody.
- The needs of the child.
- The fitness of the parents – their ability to parent.
- The stability of each home environment.
- The parents’ ability to communicate and work together in matters relating to the child.
- Any history of unwillingness to allow visitation (except in cases of abuse).
- Any history of domestic violence.
- The child’s safety and the safety of one parent from physical abuse by the other parent.
- The child’s preference, if the child is old enough to make an intelligent decision.
- The interactions and relationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings.
- The child’s educational needs (and the value of continuity).
- The proximity of the parents’ homes.
- The extent and quality of each parent’s time spent with child before and after the separation.
- The parents’ employment responsibilities and how this might affect their ability to parent.
- The age and number of children.
If you have any further questions about the benefits of mediation vs litigation, please call our dedicated New Jersey family law attorney Tanya Freeman today for a free consultation.