Even though your relationship with the other parent is over, you retain enough good will between you to put your children first. You want to make sure that the children enjoy ample time with each of you and that you both remain vital parts of their lives.
To that end, you decided to use mediation to come up with a child custody agreement and parenting plan. You may need some help making sure that you get the most out of the mediation process. Doing so could result in an agreement with which you, the other parent and the children are satisfied.
Before the big day
Prior to your scheduled mediation session, you can do some research and preparation to help you through the negotiations. Sketch out a loose plan that you think will work. Gain an understanding of what the court expects from your plan in order to approve it as well. Armed with this information, you at least have a place to start.
Don’t get too attached to your plans, however. A large part of mediation is compromise. You need to make peace with the fact that you may not get everything you want. You also need to prepare to really listen to what the other parent has to say. The mediator will more than likely stress the requirement that each party deserves the right to speak.
Just because you both agreed to go through mediation does not mean that there won’t be any tension. Make a resolution with yourself not to let your feelings about the other parent (as a partner and not a parent) interfere with the process. If you remember that this isn’t about the parents, but instead about the needs and best interests of the children, you increase your chances of successfully negotiating an agreement.
On the big day
Leave all other issues regarding the end of your relationship at home. This is not the time to discuss property division, child support or alimony. The goal is to make decisions that directly affect your children. Go to the meeting with an open mind and consider options that may be “outside the box.” Your family situation is like no other, and a cookie cutter plan will probably not work.
The mediator’s job is to keep you on track, provide viable solutions and help you find a happy middle ground. All of the control over the future rests with the two of you. You can devise a custody agreement and parenting plan that works well for your family. As long as the results represent the best interests of the children, the court should approve the final results.
Lastly, having a legal advocate attend the session or sessions with you can help ensure that your rights are protected and that your agreement won’t violate current Wyoming child custody laws or public policy.