Reaching a child custody decision is rarely easy. It can easily be the most difficult part of a divorce, or, for couples who were not married, the most difficult part of dissolving a relationship. When you are going through a child custody battle, you have two options for reaching an arrangement. The first is to go through the court system, leaving the decision in the hands of judge. The second option is to reach an agreement with your partner through mediation.

For couples who cannot work together, it may be necessary to go to court to achieve a custody arrangement. But for other couples, mediation can be an appealing option.

Understanding custody mediation

In custody mediation, a child’s parents work together with a neutral mediator, usually a family law attorney, to reach a tisfactory custody arrangement. The three of you will discuss your options as far as custody schedules. In a mediation session, both you and your ex have the chance to make your wishes known in a private discussion rather than a public court. Even if the two of you have a strained relationship, the mediator is trained to work with both of you to reach an agreement.

Mediation vs. court

There are many reasons why some couples prefer mediation over court trials. Generally, mediation is less adversarial than going to court. Whereas the trial process necessarily pits you against your ex, mediation brings the two of you together to form a resolution. While a trial can extend for months and in some cases years, mediation typically takes a few weeks. What’s more, mediation is often less expensive than going to trial—especially if your custody case is resolved quickly. If you and your former partner are still capable of working with each other and you are considering your options for reaching a custody decision, you may wish to consider mediation.