Mediation in family disputes (concerning eg custody, residence and / or contact)
Many children are forced to participate in a divorce or separation between the parents and unfortunately also divisive court disputes about e.g. custody, accommodation and contact. The idea of the mediation is to help the parents find a consensual solution to the issues concerning e.g. custody, residence and contact, instead of litigating in court.
Mediation in family disputes usually takes place in the following way, with Gert as mediator.
Initially, an individual conversation is held for about two hours with the parents, so that they will, among other things, have the opportunity to tell each other what they want to achieve through mediation and what they themselves can contribute to make an agreement possible. What the parents want to achieve does not necessarily only have to be about the disputes (which usually concern custody, housing and / or contact), but it can also refer to how the parents want to relate to each other in the future (communication, cooperation, trust, etc.).
Thereafter, joint meetings are held with the parents, usually several shorter or longer conversations, during which the dispute issues and other things are discussed and agreed upon. Usually, but not always, the parents are then already in a court process, which is paused while waiting for a consensual solution to be reached during the mediation. When the parents finally reach an agreement on the disputes, they can have the content written down in an enforceable judgment through the court. Other agreements, e.g. concerning communication, cooperation, trust, etc., may be attached to the judgment. In this way, the parents get all the agreements in the same document (the judgment).
The parents’ respective representatives usually do not participate in the mediation meetings themselves, but Gert usually talks to them if the parents get stuck in conflicting positions, especially with regard to the dispute issues. The purpose is to get the agents’ help in finding constructive strategies for the parties to be able to agree. In this case, the representatives can play a sometimes decisive role. In addition, between mediation talks, the parents usually discuss the possible agreement with their representatives.
Occasionally there is a need to – in addition to the mediator – also engage a child psychologist in the mediation, who sometimes speaks individually with the child / children. Note that this is not the same as a child interview during a custody, housing and contact investigation, which is carried out by the social administration. The purpose of the child psychologist’s child conversation is instead to get clarity about the child’s psychological state and an idea of what can be thought of as the child’s best in the given situation, without the child having to take a stand between the parents. The child psychologist can also participate in the joint conversations with the parents, often as a professional “sounding board” for them.
The advantage of mediation in custody disputes, compared to a court process, is that the parents during the mediation get help with focusing on the child / children, instead of on the other parent’s shortcomings, and on the present and the future, instead of what has been. In addition, it is in the mediation that it is the parents themselves – and not a judge – who decide how the current issues are to be regulated in the best way for their children. This at the same time as saving time and money and improving the chances that the children can feel good and that the parents get a better functioning parental relationship.
Due to this, disputing parents, lawyers and other representatives in family disputes as well as judges are recommended to propose mediation, preferably as early as possible during the court process (or before such). Once the court has appointed a mediator, the state pays the cost for him or her (including the cost of a possible child psychologist). The mediator’s assignment usually lasts for four weeks, with the possibility of extension if the parties want and the district court approves it (which it normally does).
In family disputes with cross-border or cross-cultural elements, “co-mediation” can be used (see “Mediation in cross-border or cross-cultural disputes”).
For general information about mediation and the mediator, click here.