Ohio courts often require parents to participate in a mediation session in an effort to resolve their parenting dispute by agreement instead of by litigation. Most parents find this to be a very attractive option for a number of reasons: they can have a direct voice in their custody decision; they do not have to trust an unknown person with a decision that could affect each member of the family for life; they usually feel good about the mediation because they have had the opportunity to express all of their wishes. In Summit County, mediation is optional in paternity cases, but highly recommended.

FACT: About 90% of the parents who reach an agreement during mediation are able to abide by their agreement. Thus, it is far more productive for parents to engage in further mediation than to involve themselves and their children in the litigation process.

A mediation session will typically begin with the mediator allowing each of the parents to state their feelings about the custody situation. After some period of time, the mediator will help the parents switch the entire focus to the needs and future of their child. Each of the parents must think of what will be best for their child, not what is best for themselves. Focusing on the child puts both parents on an equal basis, allowing them to drop their guard and think in a very different manner. This is when parents can begin to address the actual time-sharing procedures, and establish dates and times when each parent will have the child. Other issues discussed in mediation include schooling, medical care, clothing, travel, respect for each other’s lifestyle, remedies for breach of contract, and other areas that may be particular to the specific child and family.

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