How to Prepare for Your Custody Mediation Sessions

By Natalie Bower

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

In preparing for settlement negotiations of legal and physical custody issues, it is vital for you to have a clear understanding of the disputed issues in your case and the applicable legal standards.

By reviewing with your attorney the pleadings that have been filed in your case, the legal criteria underlying each party’s initial requests, and options for a proposed agreement, you will be better armed to effectively negotiate.

Your mediation sessions may include the following topics in conjunction with addressing legal and physical custody:

  • Holiday and summer visitation schedules;
  • Details regarding the child(ren)’s schooling and where each parent resides;
  • Facilitation of the child(ren)’s sports and extracurricular activities during each party’s physical custody time; and
  • Transportation of the child(ren) for each parent’s physical custody time.

It is often beneficial to also review a sample custody agreement prior to mediation to establish which provisions are a priority to you and where you can bolster your argument for certain terms in your custody agreement.


Keep Your Focus

Many people entering custody mediation have the false impression that mediation is to be used as a counseling session for the parties or an opportunity to plead your case. You may anticipate that your spouse will raise accusations or emotional concerns in mediation.

While these concerns should be acknowledged, allow the mediator to guide the focus of the custody mediation to the relevant issues in formulating a final order for your case.

Likewise, custody mediation is not meant for relaying each party’s life history in an attempt to have the mediator decide the issues in your case. The mediator is not a judge but is there to provide progressive tactics and discuss options in moving the parties toward a final resolution.

Be forward thinking and focused on the terms of a final resolution to your case in order to avoid dwelling on issues that are not significant to the future custody and visitation of your children.


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Natalie Hinton is a Associate Attorney for the Edwardsville, Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice in the state of Illinois. Ms. Hinton graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with dual degrees, a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in French. She received her Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Prior to pursuing her law degree Ms. Hinton worked as a Legal Assistant with Cordell & Cordell, P.C. in St. Louis, Missouri. It was during this time that she was inspired to attend law school.

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