Daughter of divorcing parents worried

Dos and Don’ts in Child Custody Mediation

patrickcrawford | May 24, 2023

The process of determining a custody agreement for your child or children can be daunting, overwhelming, and highly contentious. The emotional toll is often significant for parents and children alike. One way to improve the ease and speed of a child custody determination is to avoid family law court and reach a solution in child custody mediation. 


Thoughtful meditation can help you and your co-parent reach a resolution for sharing parenting responsibilities and avoiding a custody battle in court. With an experienced family law attorney and a clear understanding of the dos and don’ts of child custody mediation, you can successfully navigate the child custody mediation process. 


Contact our skilled and reliable child custody attorney at the Law Office of Patrick Crawford for comprehensive legal assistance with your child custody case. Attorney Patrick Crawford is experienced in all types of family law matters and is dedicated to helping families protect their rights and the rights of their children.  


What is Child Custody Mediation?

In child custody mediation, both parents and their child or children will meet with a mediator in an attempt to determine a plan for child custody and visitation. With the support of family law attorneys, you will present your goals and communicate through the third-party mediator. 


Mediators are trained to help parties navigate through issues and reach amicable resolutions that are in the best interests of the child. The mediator is a seasoned attorney in the corresponding field of law and agreed upon ahead of time by both parties’ legal counsel. Although the mediator does not make decisions, they may offer suggestions and help guide the parties to communicate effectively. 


In Maryland, mediation is a common method of alternative dispute resolution that is often encouraged by the family law court system. Not only does it save all parties time and money, but it allows the decisions to be in the hands of the parents versus the family law court. 


Is Child Custody Mediation Right for My Case? 

While it can be highly effective, electing child custody mediation is a personal decision and may not be right for all child custody cases. Generally, family law mediation is most effective when both parties are open to working together to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of their child or children. 


However, if you and your co-parent have a highly contentious, hostile, or abusive relationship, mediation may be unproductive. Ultimately, the decision to pursue mediation or to take your case to court should be based on careful consideration of your unique circumstances, including the needs of the children, the relationship between you and your co-parent, and the specific disputes that need resolving. 


Discussing your case with an experienced family law attorney in Maryland can help you understand the best path for your family to take in resolving child custody disputes and other family law matters. 


Child Custody Mediation Dos And Don’ts


Hiring An Attorney 

When it comes to hiring an attorney for your Maryland child custody case, it is vital to make a thoughtful decision. The family law attorney you choose can make an impact on the result of the case. 


  • Choose a Maryland family law attorney with experience working on child custody cases. 
  • Choose a child custody lawyer whom you feel comfortable with and can have a transparent, professional relationship with. 



  • Don’t choose an attorney solely based on their advertising claims. 
  • Don’t try to represent yourself. Family law cases are complex and require the guidance of an experienced attorney. The mediator is unable to provide legal advice or explain legal concepts to you. 
  • Don’t sign any legal documents without an attorney present or aware. Child custody agreements are binding and can be difficult to change or modify. 

man talking to his lawyer

Preparing For Mediation 

Before your child custody mediation, you should communicate with your family law lawyer to ensure you and your counsel are fully prepared. Having a strategy ready can significantly increase your chances of a successful mediation. 



  • Be available and communicate with your child custody attorney leading up to the mediation. This will help prevent rushing to complete last-minute preparations. 
  • Confirm with your child custody attorney that all of the relevant and necessary documentation and evidence is completed and present at the mediation. This can include evidence such as financial records, proof of residency, medical history, school records, and more. 
  • Request a separate mediation if there is a history of domestic violence in you and your co-parent’s relationship. 



  • Don’t withhold important information from your attorney. Full transparency will help you and your counsel be properly prepared for mediation. 


Attending Mediation 

Mediation can occur in person or via a video call, and all parties must be present throughout the entirety of the mediation, which can take several hours. It is important to understand what to expect on the day of and cooperate with the mediator and your legal counsel.  



  • Arrive appropriately dressed. You should dress for an office setting, business, or business casual attire. Also, if you are on video, be mindful of your chosen background. 
  • Clear your schedule and be patient. Mediation usually takes several hours and can be an all-day or multiple-day event. Your attorney can typically let you know if they expect a short or a very long mediation depending on the circumstances of your case. 



  • Don’t arrive late. Arriving on time shows respect to the mediator and the mediation process. Being late will present a poor first impression and start the day on a negative or stressful note. 
  • Don’t be distracted. Be present and pay attention throughout the mediation, especially if the mediator or your counsel is speaking to you. Avoid using your phone or looking uninterested in any way. 


Appropriate Behavior

It is essential to behave appropriately during the child custody mediation. Cooperating and staying level-headed can go a long way in helping ensure a positive outcome for you and your child or children. Not only will this help you navigate mediation more effectively, but it will also help the child or children to cope better with this potentially stressful process. 



  • Be polite and respectful to everyone involved in the mediation, especially the mediator.   
  • Maintain a calm demeanor. Staying level-headed will not only help you make better decisions, but it will present your best foot forward to the mediation and other people in attendance. 



  • Don’t be argumentative, aggressive, or harass your co-parent. While it can be beneficial to express issues of concern, be sure you do so in a way that doesn’t blame or demean your co-parent. 
  • Don’t bring up other issues within the separation or divorce. Communication should be relevant and productive to the child custody agreement. 
  • Don’t discuss child custody issues in a self-centered manner. Child custody determinations are aimed at what is best for the child or children, not what is best for an individual parent. 


Understanding Your Goals

When it comes to child custody disputes, it is vital to understand your goals before entering mediation. You and your child custody attorney should discuss your ideal custody and visitation agreement as well as the compromises you are willing and not willing to make. 


The more thought you put into the details of your agreement, the better prepared you and your counsel will be. With your goals outlined, your counsel can advise you more productively while minimizing unnecessary stress and conflict.



  • Understand your goals, communicate them to your attorney, and understand the legal basis for achieving those goals. 
  • Stay focused on your priorities. Be sure not to get sidetracked by minor disagreements or disputes that do not impact your overall goals. 
  • Keep an open mind and understand that there will necessarily be compromises. Listen to your counsel and the mediator to help you find solutions when you do not achieve your exact goal. 



  • Don’t demand or refuse to compromise with the mediator. Show them you are level-headed, respectful, and willing to do whatever is best for your child. 
  • Don’t make impulsive decisions that can impact your family for a long time. Your predetermined goals are there to refer back to and help you make good decisions for you and your child. 


How Our Annapolis Child Custody Attorneys Can Help

Our experienced and dedicated Annapolis child custody attorney is here to help. With a deep understanding of the Maryland family law system and commitment to helping our clients, we can work with you to navigate this process smoothly. 


From our advanced negotiation skills to compassionate advocacy for your goals, our child custody attorney, Patrick Crawford, provides comprehensive legal counsel to our clients. 


At the Law Office of Patrick Crawford, we are here to listen, to advise, and to help you make the best decisions for you and your family’s future. If you have questions on your specific child custody case in Maryland, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for answers. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with our knowledgeable Annapolis child custody attorney.


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