One of the main benefits of going through mediation is the ability to avoid the bitterness of a contested divorce. That does not mean these discussions always go smoothly. Certain topics can be extremely emotional, potentially leading to heated disagreements.

One of these topics is child custody and parenting time. Here are three tips to help set you on the path toward a satisfactory resolution.

1. Remember the goal

If you go into mediation readying for a fight, you will probably get one. It’s important to approach mediation with the right mindset. When it comes to child custody and parenting time discussions, that means keeping in mind arguably the most important goal: Reaching an agreement that is in the best interests of your children.

Set this as your north star, and it should guide you well.

2. Be ready to discuss more than the schedule

Child custody and parenting time discussions aren’t just about deciding when each of you will get the kids. There are many more topics to cover. That includes:

  • The children’s health
  • Education preferences
  • Religious upbringing
  • Transportation to different activities and appointments
  • Disciplinary measures
  • Other daily concerns

These subjects will inevitably come up as you co-parent. A proactive approach can help defuse any potential conflict before it even begins.

3. Listen, listen, listen

If you approach mediation with the belief there is only one acceptable solution, you will not have much luck making progress. As one licensed psychologist puts it, parents that come in ready to listen to both their soon-to-be former spouse as well as the mediator are the ones most likely to reach a satisfactory agreement.

It is easy to let baggage from the marriage distract from the conversation at hand. Try to remind yourself that custody and parenting time are separate from your marital issues.

There will always be a few rough patches during mediation. That is normal. With the proper approach, you can help ensure these trouble spots are short-lived.