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Los Gatos divorce attorney child custody mediation

The divorce process presents a unique set of challenges in each individual case. For parents, a divorce can significantly alter their relationships with their children. In many cases, divorcing parents will be fighting for custody of their children, and as this battle for custody takes place, many parents forget what should truly be at the forefront of the conversation: what is best for the children. In many cases, mediation can be used to resolve these issues amicably while keeping children’s best interests in mind.

The Benefits of Mediation in Child Custody Cases

During the mediation process, divorcing parents will work together with a neutral mediator to reach an agreement about child custody and visitation. Mediation can provide many benefits, including:

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Los Gatos Divorce Mediation LawyerEvery year, thousands of American couples make the difficult decision to pursue a divorce. While some divorces can be hostile and aggravating, others can be navigated with some level of amicability. In these instances, mediation can represent an alternative option to standard divorce proceedings, enabling you and your spouse to have greater control over the decision making process while maintaining a dialogue that can be critical during this difficult time in your life.

The Benefits of Mediation

Divorce mediation is a process in which a divorcing couple works with a trained, neutral mediator to facilitate a dialogue and resolve issues surrounding the divorce. Here are a number of reasons why mediation can be a smoother process than a divorce trial:

  • It Expedites the Divorce Process: In many cases, divorce can be a long and strenuous process. During mediation, spouses will work together with a mediator to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to the outstanding issues in their divorce, and the process can often be much quicker than a standard divorce trial. As spouses look to transition to the next phase of their life and begin a fresh start, the ability to reach a faster resolution can be invaluable.

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Los Gatos child custody modification attorneyDuring a divorce, or after the birth of a child to an unmarried mother, decisions must be made about how child custody and visitation will be handled. After these matters are settled, and a plan is put in place, it may remain in effect until the child reaches adulthood. However, there are some circumstances in which a child custody agreement could and/or should be modified. A custody modification, however, is not something to be taken lightly. Typically, the parents must either be in agreement about the change, or there must have been a “change in circumstances.”

What Is a Change in Circumstances?

If you feel your child custody or visitation agreement should be changed, and the child’s other parent disagrees, then you will have to petition for a modification through the legal system. You may end up having to meet with a mediator or go before a judge to plead your case. You will not get anywhere in your quest, however, unless you can show that there has been a significant “change in circumstances” since the original parenting plan was put in place.

This means that there must have been some major change or big event in the child’s or the parent’s life that makes the previous custody arrangement no longer viable. The reason has to be significant, and the focus will be on the best interests of the child. A parent typically will not be able to have a child custody agreement changed without proving that this change to the child’s regular routine will be beneficial to the child.

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Los Gatos, CA grandparent custody lawyerWhen children are removed from their parents in California, no matter the reason, the law requires that they be placed with relatives if there are any fit to be considered as guardians. Relatives may be defined as any adults who are related to the children by blood or adoption, or even someone within the “fifth degree of kinship,” which means stepparents or siblings, grandparents, great- or great-great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles, even if the relationship was through marriage. In these cases, it is essential to work with an experienced family law attorney.

Qualifying for Placement

If a family member requests that children who have been removed from their parents be placed with them, they will be given preferential treatment, meaning that they will be considered above any other foster parents. When children are removed from their home, a social worker must conduct an investigation to find all adult relatives of the child and do background checks, follow up on any past allegations of abuse or neglect, and conduct a home inspection of the relative where they child may be placed.

Social workers may also speak to the children about the relatives in question to try and make sure they get a good fit for placement. Social workers will also need to consider the following:

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Los Gatos CA divorce mediation lawyer child custodyIn the heat of the divorce proceedings, sometimes one parent is willing to do just about anything to hurt the other parent. In other cases, one parent may have legitimate concerns about their child’s health and safety when they are in the care of the other parent, and they may be willing to fight for months or years to protect their child. When there is a custody disagreement, mediation can ease the financial and emotional burden on all parties involved by allowing parents to take a more personal approach to resolving their disputes while saving time and money by not dragging matters out in the courtroom.

What Is the Purpose of a Mediator?

Divorce mediation is designed to bring parents together and help them settle on a parenting plan that will work for their individual situation. A mediator assists in facilitating agreements and provides the necessary information to both sides to help them come to an agreement. An attorney experienced in mediation knows the laws but also understands the human, emotional part of parenting during and after a divorce. It can be difficult to see past one’s own anger and fears during a divorce, and as a neutral third party, a mediator can advocate for the child or children involved, working to overcome the parents’ emotional disputes. 

Litigation in court is clinical and impersonal, and it can become drawn out and expensive when resolving custody and visitation matters. Mediation allows parents to work together to reach an agreement that they can both be satisfied with. However, if mediation lasts a long time, and either or both parents still refuse to come to terms, a mediator can provide an assessment and recommendations to the court. This often helps the judge to make a more informed decision that is in the children’s best interests.

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