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<xTITLE>To Mediate or Not to Mediate Your Child Custody Case</xTITLE>

To Mediate or Not to Mediate Your Child Custody Case

by Ben Coltrin
December 2021 Ben Coltrin

To Mediate or Not to Mediate Your Child Custody Case

There are many benefits of using mediation in your child custody case. Mediation gives you the final say over the type of custody you get and the other terms of your parenting plan. You'll also gain experience negotiating that could open the door to a successful co-parenting relationship.

However, many parents in cases involving child custody wonder if mediation is right for them. You might be surprised by the circumstances under which mediation can work.

Can I use mediation if I've started a court case?

Yes. Your court might even require you to attend mediation before the case can proceed to a final hearing (where the judge decides the custody arrangement). You can ask the court to go to mediation if it's not required.

Can I use mediation if I haven’t started a court case? 

Yes. You could always reach an agreement in mediation, then turn in your mediated agreement to the court. If the judge approves, it becomes your final custody order.

Can I use mediation if the other parent doesn't want to participate

No. Both parents must agree to go to mediation. The mediator can reach out to try to persuade them to attend.

Can I use mediation if I already have a custody order?

Yes. Mediation is primarily used by parents who don't have a custody order, but you can go to mediation to modify your parenting plan. You would then submit the new plan to the court and wait for the judge to approve.

Can I use mediation if I'm not the child's legal father?

No. You'll need to get a paternity order naming you the child's legal father. After that, you can go to mediation if the other parent is willing.

Can I use mediation if I have trouble talking with my ex?

Yes. The mediator's job is to mediate, meaning they will help keep conversations civil. The mediator will help you set aside your differences and prioritize the best interest of the child.

So long as neither presents a danger to the child's well-being, both parents have a right to be part of their child's life. Through mediation, you can add terms to your parenting plan that limit contact between you and the other parent that a judge might not consider.

Can I use mediation if my ex was violent towards me?

It depends. If being around your ex is dangerous for you, or if fear of them prevents you from speaking your mind, mediation is not a good option for you. Some cases need court intervention to protect everyone involved. However, if you feel comfortable enough, the mediator may be able to make accommodations to protect you. They might put you in separate rooms during mediation sessions.


Ben Coltrin was 21 years old when he quit his job to create the Custody X Change software, which helps parents track their custody schedules, create parenting plans, keep tabs on their child's expenses, and more.

Nearly 20 years later, he loves sharing his child custody knowledge and improving the software because both positively impact real people's lives.

Ben has an MBA from MIT Sloan and a computer science degree from California State University, Sacramento. He lives with his wife and four children in Riverton, Utah.

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