Preparing for Mediation: Custody Edition

Thank you for joining me. My name is LaSheena Williams, and I am a Maryland family law attorney. My firm helps our clients take control of out-of-control domestic situations. Today we will be discussing preparing for your custody mediation.

What is a parenting plan?

In Maryland you are required to provide the court with a parenting plan and a parenting plan is a plan of action for how you want to deal with custody related issues for your children. It’s how you want to deal with legal custody concerns, how you want to deal with communication, what type of access schedule you want to have, whether it’s during the school year during the summer or during breaks and holidays, it’s overall plan for how you and your co-parent plan to move forward in parenting your children.

Prepare your Parenting Plan

It’s very important that you prepare your parenting plan before your custody mediation. That way, when you go into your mediation you already have a game plan for what terms you want. You’ve already thought about the transition location. You’ve already thought about the best time for when you will do the transitions. You’ve already thought about what holidays you care about, the holidays you don’t care about, and holidays that your co-parent may care about. It’s very important that you think about this in advance and that you flesh this out. It’s better if you talk to a lawyer about it because the lawyer will likely bring up concerns that you may not necessarily have considered so that you can have a more thorough and robust plan. you want to go into mediation with a plan. You don’t necessarily want to go into mediation without having any idea what you want to do, except knowing that you want a certain goal. You want to know how to get to that goal and that’s what preparing a parenting plan will help you do.

Review your parenting Plan

It’s important that if you’ve prepared a parenting plan that you review it before your mediation. You may have prepared this parenting plan weeks or even months ago and you may not necessarily have looked at it. It may be a situation where those terms might not necessarily fit your lifestyle anymore and you may need to change certain things in your parenting plan. You need to review it before your mediation so that you can remember what it is you’re trying to accomplish and how it is you’re trying to get there. So, it’s important that you review it before the mediation.

Know your Best- and Worst-Case Options

When it comes to litigation you can’t always get everything you want. It’s important to know that, but it’s also important to know what you are willing to compromise on and the things that you are not willing to compromise on, and how far you’re willing to go and seeking a compromise. Sometimes people can get caught up in the heat of things and just agree to certain terms that they don’t think they can actually live with just to get this process over, but the key is understanding that any agreement you enter into may impact your life for years to come and you don’t want to rush into an agreement and you don’t want to rush into agreeing to terms that you don’t agree with just because you don’t like this process. So, you need to know what you can compromise on and how far you’re willing to go in making those compromises so that you can get the best outcome possible.

Speak with your Lawyer

I think it’s important that you speak with your attorney prior to your custody mediation. Typically, in Maryland you’re not allowed to bring an attorney to your custody mediation, but that does not necessarily mean you can’t talk to your attorney prior to the mediation. You need to talk with your attorney to make sure that you understand what you’re trying to accomplish, to get a strategy, a game plan, and to know how the steps to get to your goal. A lot of people just go into mediations and just hope for the best and hope the mediator has a plan, that, is the exact opposite of what you want to do you need to work out your plan with your lawyer, make sure you understand your parenting plan, and do everything you can do to get as close to what you want as possible. Understanding that you might need to compromise, but you still need to go in with that kind of mindset. Don’t put your life in the hands of other people when you can do everything you can to try to make sure you’re sculpting it and the way you need and prefer for your family.

If you have any questions about custody mediation preparation or any other issues related to custody or domestic concerns in Maryland, contact the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams at (301) 778 – 9950 or leave an online request for a consultation.