Divorce can often be contentious, especially when there are children involved. There may have been other factors that led to a couple deciding to end their marriage, but determining child custody might add a whole new layer of grievances to what is already a complicated relationship.
At its core, child custody provides for the obligations and rights of both parents when it comes to raising children after a divorce. A child custody plan will also determine a visitation schedule. Even if one parent has primary custody of the children, the other parent still has the right to visit. So, a schedule must be worked out that is agreeable to both parents and takes into consideration school schedules, the distance the children will have to travel, and work schedules.
When two parents are having a hard time coming up with a child custody agreement, the courts will often send them to mediation to resolve their issues. But who can be involved in mediation? Can grandparents, other relatives, or the children be involved in mediation?
Who Goes to Mediation Meetings?
Mediation is supposed to help the parents develop a custody and visitation plan that is in the children's best interests. Generally, only the two parents are involved in mediation. Grandparents and other relatives may have opinions on child custody, but ultimately it is the parents who are responsible for the children.
There are two general exceptions to the rule of “parents only” when it comes to mediation:
History of Domestic Violence If there has been a history of domestic violence, or there is a restraining order in place, or if one party is concerned about meeting jointly with a mediator, the mediator can meet with each party at separate times. A domestic violence support person can also go with one party to mediation.
Interpretation Needed If English is not parents' first language, and they are uncomfortable conducting the mediation in English, an interpreter can attend. Sometimes a court can provide an interpreter, but most often they do not. It is important that an interpreter translates everything that everyone in the meeting says, without adding extra information or their own opinions. That being said, this is why the children should not be used as interpreters.
In the process of mediation, the mediator may want to interview the children to gain insight into the family's dynamics. But other than that, the children have no say in the mediation process.
Dedicated North Carolina Family Law Attorney
If you and your spouse have decided to divorce but are having a hard time agreeing on child custody, the court may order you to mediation. Talk to dedicated family law attorney Jay Jerkins about the mediation process and how you can preserve the best interests of your children. Contact Family Law attorney Jay Jerkins or call 919-719-2785 today.