Must a Divorce Mediator Have Children to Understand Child Custody Issues?
The mostly hotly disputed issue in most divorces is child custody. Even if you decide to mediate your divorce because you hope the process will be less adversarial, there is no escaping the parental instinct to fight for your children. And because this issue is so important to you, you naturally want the issue to resonate with the mediator you hire. This prompts the question: to be successful in child custody mediation, must a mediator also be a parent? The answer, we believe, is no.
The arguments in favor of a mediator who is a parent seem straightforward until couples find that these so-called advantages can also hinder the mediation process. Here’s a short list:
- Empathy for your attachment to your child — It’s reasonable to think that a mediator who loves his or her own child will feel for a parent who is in a custody dispute. But in mediation, there are two parents, so, at best, the mediator would empathize with both. At worst, the mediator would favor one parent over another, which goes against the role of neutrality, which is essential to a successful outcome.
- Knowledge of children — A parent should know what children are like and what they need. A mediator who is a parent would know his or her own children specifically and could extrapolate some of that knowledge to children generally. But that doesn’t give the mediator any specific insights to your children. You and the other parent know your children better than anyone, and it’s that knowledge that should drive the process.
- Concern for children — Someone who is a parent probably has a generalized concern for children and may feel that concern more acutely than someone who is not a parent. But how does that advance the process? The courts decide child custody issues based on the objective standard of “the best interests of the child.” The law requires judges to reach a conclusion based on a reasoned analysis of facts applied to numerous factors. When it comes to being reasonable and objective, as required by law, parents have no special advantage over nonparents.
What is more important is the mediator’s ability to be neutral while relying on knowledge, skill and experience to guide parents toward a workable compromise.
If you are a parent contemplating divorce, Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc. can help you and your spouse mediate your child custody issues in a cost-effective manner. Call us at 1.631.683.8172 or contact our Long Island office online.