Can You Mediate Child Custody if You Were Never Married?

When a relationship involving children ends, it’s always a good idea to get a formalized custody agreement in place. Some people have the misconception that they can’t mediate child custody if they were never married. Fortunately, that is not true. Many legal situations can be resolved through mediation: it’s one method of reaching an agreement, which can then be formalized in court.

Here's how child custody mediation works.

The custody mediation process

Mediation invites two parties to reach an agreement outside of court, rather than having lawyers advocate on your behalf in front of a judge. This is often a faster, less expensive method of resolving a legal issue. The mediator acts as a neutral third party to guide the process and resolve all issues involved.

Child custody mediation works largely the same way. The parents can sit down with a mediator in the hopes of reaching a custody agreement. The mediator will hear both sides’ concerns, and encourage the parents to compromise. Ideally, at the end of the sessions, the parents will be able to agree on a custody and visitation schedule, as well as any child support needs. Then the parents can file the agreement in court for a judge to review and approve.

Mediation vs. hiring an attorney

Mediation is best suited for parents who are both able to put the best interests of their child first. If your child’s other parent is difficult, high conflict or resentful, you may not be able to reach a fair agreement.

Because mediators don’t advocate for the parties, you may benefit from hiring an attorney to review your agreement before filing it in court. This can confirm that you’re not giving up any important rights. If your agreement is less fair than what you’d be likely to get through litigation, you may need to try to renegotiate with the mediator—or litigate the custody agreement with a lawyer.

Contact the trusted Long Island divorce and custody meditators at Solutions Divorce Mediation to find out whether mediation could be right for you.

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