Now that you know for certain that your marriage is over, you might be dreading having to deal with child custody issues. The thought of a stranger making decisions for your child might make you uncomfortable. There is another option – mediation. This process involves you and your ex-husband working together to create the child custody agreement.

Mediation is not appropriate in all cases

Not all child custody cases are suitable for mediation. New Jersey law won’t allow you to use mediation for these matters if your family is currently involved with a child welfare organization. You won’t be able to use mediation if you or your ex-husband has an active restraining order for domestic violence. In most other cases, mediation is a suitable option for coming to the terms of the child custody and parenting time agreement.

Mediation can offer a faster resolution

Having to go through a trial for the court to determine custody matters is a lengthy process. The entire time the case is pending, you and your child live in uncertainty because you don’t know what the court will order. Mediation offers a much faster resolution of these cases. There isn’t any standard amount of time that you can expect mediation to take. Instead, it depends on the issues at hand and how well you and your ex can work together to get those matters solved. Some cases are resolved in one session and others take multiple sessions.

Mediation takes effort and compromise

Mediation requires that you and your ex-husband work together with the help of a neutral third party. Decide beforehand what issues you can compromise on and which ones you can’t. This gives you a good starting point for your negotiations. Keep your child’s best interests at the heart of the mediation. The agreement must be in writing, signed by you, your ex, and the mediator, and signed by a judge. The agreement is enforceable by the court once the judge signs off on it.

Mediation doesn’t always work

Neither party can go into the process unwilling to negotiate. If, for some reason, you and your ex are unable to come to an agreement, the case would head to court. The exact process depends on how you ended up in mediation. If the court ordered it, the case goes back before the judge. If you and your ex decided to try mediation from the get-go, your case would go to the Family Court Assessment Unit.