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Mediating child custody issues may be preferable to litigation

When it comes to resolving child custody issues, there are options besides litigating every little disagreement. One of these options is mediation. In fact, per Washington law, the court may order mediation before a hearing takes place. The purpose of having parents go through mediation is to attempt to reduce the acrimony they may have with one another, and to allow them to develop an agreement that will allow the child to have close and continuing contact with each of his or her parents once the parents divorce.

In Washington, every superior court may have a mediator available for such cases. Per law, the provided mediation must be cost-effective and readily available. The mediator may be a person who works for a mental health services agency or he or she may be a member of a family court professional staff. However, the law does not require that a family court be instituted. Counties may, within the confines of state funding, provide mediation services at a reduced or waived fee if the parents utilize such services within 12 months of filing for divorce.

The mediator will assess the child's needs, along with the best interests of the child with regards to the parents' issues. The mediator may interview the child if doing so would be appropriate or necessary. Once the parents reach an agreement through mediation, it will be reported to the court.

Mediation can be a safe and cost-effective way to settle child custody matters. It can give parents more control over the outcome of their child custody case, and it can set the groundwork for future cooperation between the parents post-divorce, which in the end will benefit the child as well.

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