Virginia parents who are in the middle of a divorce will be concerned about how their children will adapt to the new circumstances. Child custody and visitation rights can be complex and lead to acrimony. Even parents who are on reasonably good terms can be vulnerable to hard feelings as a case moves forward.

One way to negotiate a mutually beneficial settlement is through mediation. However, people should be aware of what the process entails. Through mediation, the parties can meet with a neutral professional who is trained to bridge gaps between them to find a satisfactory resolution. This can be successful with child custody, parenting time and visitation.

If one spouse has requested mediation, the other must decide whether it is a viable alternative. In some cases, the issues are so challenging that negotiation is fruitless, but there is no requirement to take part. After the request has been made, a written reply should be sent. Judges sometimes order couples to attend mediation.

Whether it was a personal choice or done because a judge ordered it, taking part in mediation could be looked upon favorably if the negotiations fail as it indicates a willingness to be flexible. When refusing mediation, it is wise to give a reason. This will not be perceived as a lack of cooperation if there is a justified reluctance to take part.

Mediation typically takes several hours. The mediator will oversee the negotiations, exchange introductions and ask the sides to express their positions. The issues will be discussed, suggestions will be made, and the sides may reach a middle ground where they can agree on the issues at hand. Whether mediation succeeds or not, it is beneficial to understand it beforehand. As with any legal matter, advice from experienced professionals may be helpful.