Custody determinations are extremely challenging during the divorce process. Emotions are high as parents work, struggle and sometimes fight to decide the best living arrangements for their children. Custody mediation is meant to ease the contention of the process, bringing both parents together in a non-confrontational setting to calmly discuss the needs of the children and create a custody arrangement that is satisfactory to all involved.
In the state of Massachusetts, several custody determinations are made:
- Physical Custody – This is the determination of where the children will physically live on a daily basis. There are two types of physical custody:
- Sole Physical Custody – One parent is given sole custody of the children. That parent becomes the custodial parent and primary caregiver. The children live in the parent’s home for the majority of the time. Absent an extenuating circumstance, the non-custodial parent is given regularly scheduled visitations with the children.
- Shared Physical Custody – Under this arrangement, the two parents share physical custody of the child or children equally. This can occur in a number of ways. If the parents live in close proximity, the children may live with one parent for a week and the other parent the next week. This may also result in a schedule where the children spend every weekend and the entire summer with one parent. With shared physical custody, both parents are custodial parents and primary caregivers.
- Legal Custody – Issues such as schooling and medical treatments must be made, even after divorce. This decision determines which parent will make the major decisions in the child’s life. There are also two types of legal custody:
- Shared Legal Custody – The parents agree to make major decisions together. However, even in this scenario, one parent is usually given the deciding “vote” in case a mutually agreeable decision is not reached. This is the most common form of legal custody in divorce matters
- Sole Legal Custody – One parent makes all major life decisions for the child. No input from the other parent is required, but many custody arrangements include language encouraging the sole legal guardian to solicit input from the other parent.
Preparing for Mediation
Even though mediation is designed to alleviate some of the pressures of a court proceeding, it can still cause some stress, if you do not go into it with the right mindset. The Livestrong organization provides divorcing parties with several tips in preparation for a custody mediation.
- Come ready to listen – Enter the mediation with a willingness to listen to your spouse, as well as the mediator. You and your spouse may not communicate well, so this may prove difficult. Trust in your mediator and know that you will receive an opportunity to talk, but your communication is much more productive if you have truly listened to the concerns of your spouse.
- Consider your child’s needs over your own – Custody determinations are about the best interest of the child, not the parents. Be prepared to put your personal feelings to the side in consideration of your child’s needs.
- Keep an open mind – Mediation is about compromise. Be willing to consider solutions that may require you to step outside of your comfort zone.
If you and your spouse want to mediate the custody of your children, contact the Law Office of Martin Murphy LLC at (781) 285-8989 for a free consultation today. Offering mediation services and collaborative representation, the Law Office of Martin Murphy LLC stands apart from other divorce attorneys.