Child-Centered and Future-Focused Custody Mediation

Have you ever felt you and a co-parent fought about the same thing over and over again?

Away from the practice of law, and immersed in my work as a mediator, I recognize how much our legal system keeps people rehashing the past.  (It is very easy to get caught up in that way of thinking).

When you go to court for a custody case, or any case for that matter, you present evidence. This means digging up all the reasons why you should get what you ask for and all the reasons why the other person should not get what they request. Litigation often keeps both parents living in the past. This may sometimes last for many months or years at a hefty price tag financially and emotionally. 

Mediation gives parents back the authority to make decisions about their children in a private, confidential setting. Parents may discuss what matters and really consider the future they wish create for their children as co-parents.  

Before a family mediation, I invite parents to consider the following questions: 

~Imagine your child at age 25 telling a friend how well you co-parented, what would you like to overhear your adult child say? 

~ Who are you willing to be for your child to honestly say that? 

Have you thought about what your child will say years from now? Parents rarely consider the fact that one day their children will talk about this experience. Parents may work to create a positive life experience for their children or allow their children to grow up amid ongoing parental conflict.  

Should you talk with a mediator or lawyer first? You may choose to work with a mediator before or after you talk with an attorney. If you meet with the mediator beforehand, you and the other parent discuss all of the issues that you wish. You may then take any written agreement to your individual lawyers to review. Or, you may consult with a lawyer before the mediation to learn about your legal rights before you engage in the mediation conversation. Mediators in Minnesota, even if trained in the law, cannot give legal advice.  

Of course, parents never have to reach an agreement during mediation, even if the court requires that they participate in mediation. If parents reach an agreement, they decide what it says.  

What do you think it means for children’s futures to have their parents talk in mediation? Would it be more beneficial than fighting through litigation? 

Sherry Bruckner

Sherry Bruckner

A civil and family mediator, transformational coach, speaker, and trainer, Sherry Ann Bruckner lives in Alexandria, Minnesota. Visit to learn more or call Sherry at (320) 808-3212 for help transforming conflict and creating peace in your home, organization, or community.
Sherry Ann Bruckner

As always, be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.