Janet L. Goehle, Attorney at Law
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3 tips for parents of young children going through mediation

Child custody battles aren't easy for parents because no parent wants to accept that their young children will be living at least part of the time with their other parent. Children will usually adapt to situations like these, but it is important to do what is best for the child. Since you and your ex know your children the best, mediation might be a good option for working out your child custody agreement. Consider these three tips to help you get ready to negotiate.

Make a list

Santa isn't the only one who should make a list and check it twice. You should do the same thing. Think about the activities in which your child is involved and write down those schedules. Preschool, kindergarten, church and extracurricular activities should all be noted. Having this list in hand when you go to the mediation session can help determine what kinds of visitation or custody arrangements will ensure your child can continue with the scheduled activities.

You should also include a list of concerns and issues that you and your ex need to work out regarding your child. This could include decisions about school, health care and other similar matters. If your child has special needs, including those needs on the list can ensure that you remember them while negotiating the agreement.

Be willing to compromise

Go into the mediation session willing to compromise. You and your ex likely both want what is best for your children. Even if you don't have same ideas about how to get there, the goal is still the same. There are some points that you might not want to compromise on, but you must leave room for negotiations. For example, if you aren't willing to negotiate about your child being raised in a certain faith, you might have to concede regarding which school the child will attend.

Stay calm and focused

Remain calm and focused as you and your ex work through the issues at hand. Keep the focus on your child and don't play mind games with your ex. Your ex might try to manipulate the situation, but keeping your temper under wraps shows that you are truly putting your child first. If your ex does try to infuriate you, take a deep breath and remain calm. Blowing up won't do anyone any good, and it can derail the mediation session.

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