Making decisions regarding child custody is often one of the most difficult things about the divorce process. When emotions take over, parents may not make the arrangement that is best for their child.
Parents who are having trouble coming to an agreement may want to try mediation. This is a less stressful way to work through the important topics and come to an amicable decision.
There are two types of child custody: Physical and legal. Physical refers to who the child lives with, and legal refers to who makes important decisions such as those related to religion, education and medical care. In Maryland, the Court considers several factors when making an award of either physical or legal custody of a child. These factors are analyzed as the Court considers what is in the best interest of a child. Some of the factors that the Court considers are:
- Mental and physical health of all parties or their fitness to parent
- Needs and age of the child, depending on the age, the Court may consider a child’s preference
- Geography, meaning how close or far the parents live from each other
- Ability of each parent to provide for the child
- Work schedules of parents and extracurricular activities of the child
How mediation works
Mediation involves the two parents and a neutral mediator. The mediator does not make any decisions regarding custody; rather, he/she/they guides conversations between the parents using questions and problem-solving solutions. Unlike a contentious court hearing, mediation allows each side to share their emotions and discuss options in a more communicative way and in a less stressful environment.
Unlike a hearing, mediation is a confidential process, unless statements made in the sessions indicate possible violence or abuse in the home.