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What not to say in child custody mediation?

What not to say in child custody mediation?

Child custody mediation can be a challenging process, but it provides an opportunity for parents to work together to create a custody agreement that is in the best interests of their children. Effective communication plays a crucial role in the success of mediation. However, there are certain things you should avoid saying during the mediation process to ensure a positive and productive outcome. In this article, we will explore what not to say in child custody mediation and provide valuable tips to help you navigate this delicate process successfully.


Child custody mediation is a legal process where parents meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, to discuss and negotiate the terms of their custody arrangement. The goal is to reach a mutually agreeable solution that prioritizes the best interests of the child. To ensure a smooth and productive mediation, it’s important to be mindful of what you say during these sessions.

Understanding Child Custody Mediation

Before we delve into what not to say, it’s essential to understand the purpose and dynamics of child custody mediation. Mediation is designed to be a less adversarial and more cooperative approach to resolving custody disputes. It allows parents to have more control over the outcome and fosters a healthier co-parenting relationship. It’s crucial to approach mediation with a willingness to cooperate and find common ground.

Importance of Effective Communication in Mediation

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful mediation. It allows parents to express their concerns, needs, and desires while also considering the other party’s perspective. By fostering open and respectful dialogue, parents can work towards a custody agreement that meets the child’s needs and ensures their well-being. Here are some essential aspects of effective communication during mediation:

3.1 Active Listening: The Key to Successful Mediation

Active listening is vital in any form of communication, and it becomes even more crucial in mediation. It involves giving your full attention to the other party, understanding their viewpoint, and acknowledging their emotions. By actively listening, you create an atmosphere of respect and empathy, which can lead to more constructive discussions.

3.2 Expressing Emotions Constructively

Mediation can evoke strong emotions, especially when discussing matters as personal as child custody. It’s important to express your emotions constructively, focusing on “I” statements that reflect your feelings rather than attacking the other party. This approach encourages a more understanding and collaborative environment.

3.3 Avoiding Negative Language and Personal Attacks

During mediation, it’s crucial to refrain from using negative language or engaging in personal attacks. Such behavior can escalate tensions and hinder progress. Instead, focus on communicating your concerns and needs objectively, without resorting to insults or blame.

What not to say in child custody mediation?

Steering Clear of Inflammatory Remarks

When engaging in child custody mediation, certain remarks should be avoided to maintain a respectful and cooperative environment. Let’s explore some statements that can be detrimental to the mediation process:

4.1 Avoiding Blaming and Finger-Pointing

Blaming your ex-spouse or constantly pointing out their faults will only create animosity and hinder progress. Instead, focus on finding solutions and discussing the child’s best interests. Acknowledge that both parents play a crucial role in the child’s life, and strive to work together towards a mutually beneficial arrangement.

4.2 Not Bringing Up Past Mistakes or Grudges

Bringing up past mistakes or holding grudges will only serve to reopen old wounds and impede progress. Mediation is an opportunity to focus on the future and find practical solutions. Leave the past behind and concentrate on creating a custody agreement that promotes the child’s well-being.

Focusing on the Best Interests of the Child

One of the fundamental principles of child custody mediation is prioritizing the best interests of the child. When communicating during the mediation process, keep the following considerations in mind:

5.1 Not Using Children as Pawns or Bargaining Chips

Using children as pawns or leverage in negotiations is detrimental to their well-being and the overall mediation process. Avoid making threats or using manipulative tactics. Instead, focus on creating a stable and nurturing environment for your child, where their needs come first.

5.2 Avoiding Manipulative Language

Manipulative language can undermine the trust and cooperation necessary for successful mediation. Avoid using language that aims to deceive, coerce, or guilt-trip the other party. Be honest and transparent in your communication, fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Respecting the Mediation Process and the Mediator

To ensure a successful mediation, it’s essential to respect the process itself and the mediator facilitating the discussions. Consider the following points:

6.1 Avoiding Disruptive Behavior and Interruptions

Disruptive behavior and constant interruptions hinder effective communication and derail the mediation process. Practice patience and allow the other party to express their thoughts without interruption. Respectful and uninterrupted communication fosters a cooperative atmosphere.

6.2 Treating the Mediator with Respect

The mediator’s role is to facilitate constructive dialogue and guide the process towards a resolution. Treat the mediator with respect and trust their expertise. Engage in open and honest discussions, addressing any concerns or questions you may have.

Being Mindful of Non-Verbal Communication

Communication is not limited to words alone—non-verbal cues can also convey powerful messages. Payattention to the following aspects of non-verbal communication during child custody mediation:

7.1 Maintaining a Calm and Respectful Demeanor

Maintaining a calm and respectful demeanor throughout the mediation process is essential. Avoid aggressive or confrontational body language, such as crossing your arms, rolling your eyes, or displaying signs of impatience. Projecting a calm and composed attitude sets the tone for constructive dialogue.

7.2 Avoiding Aggressive Body Language

In addition to maintaining a calm demeanor, be mindful of your body language. Avoid pointing fingers, leaning in aggressively, or invading the other party’s personal space. Non-verbal cues should convey openness and a willingness to listen and collaborate.

What not to say in child custody mediation?

Being Open to Compromise and Collaboration

Successful mediation requires a willingness to compromise and collaborate. Consider the following points:

8.1 Not Holding onto Unrealistic Demands

Let go of any unrealistic demands or expectations that may hinder progress. Understand that compromise is necessary to reach a mutually agreeable solution. Focus on the bigger picture—the well-being and happiness of your child.

8.2 Being Willing to Negotiate and Find Solutions

Approach mediation with a mindset of negotiation and problem-solving. Be open to alternative solutions and explore various options that can meet both parties’ needs. Flexibility and a willingness to find common ground are key to a successful outcome.

Keeping Confidential Information Private

Confidentiality is an integral part of child custody mediation. To maintain trust and create a safe space for open dialogue, keep the following in mind:

9.1 Respecting Privacy and Confidentiality

Respect the privacy of both parties involved in the mediation. Avoid discussing sensitive or confidential information outside the mediation sessions. Maintaining confidentiality fosters an environment where both parties can speak openly and honestly.

9.2 Avoiding Sharing Sensitive Information

During mediation, be cautious about sharing sensitive information that is irrelevant to the discussion or may create unnecessary tension. Stick to the relevant facts and focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on personal matters.

Understanding the Implications of What You Say

What you say during child custody mediation can have lasting implications on the outcome. Consider the following points:

10.1 Consulting with an Attorney before Mediation

If you have concerns about what to say during mediation or need guidance on how to effectively communicate, consult with an attorney beforehand. They can provide valuable advice and help you understand the potential impact of your words.

10.2 Realizing the Impact of Words on the Outcome

Be mindful of the impact your words can have on the mediation process and the ultimate custody arrangement. Choose your words thoughtfully, focusing on constructive dialogue and the best interests of the child. Words have the power to shape perceptions and influence decisions.


Child custody mediation is a crucial process that allows parents to collaboratively determine the best custody arrangements for their children. By avoiding certain statements and adopting effective communication strategies, parents can navigate the mediation process successfully. Remember to communicate respectfully, prioritize the child’s well-being, and respect the mediation process and the mediator’s role.

Navigating the complexities of child custody law in New York State can be a challenging task, often requiring the assistance of experienced legal counsel. At the Law Office of Ghenadie Rusu, we have the expertise to guide you through this process and the dedication to protect your and your child’s interests.


12.1 Can I mention my ex-spouse’s flaws during mediation?

While it’s natural to feel frustrated or hurt by your ex-spouse’s behavior, it’s best to avoid mentioning their flaws during mediation. Focus on discussing the child’s needs and finding common ground rather than engaging in personal attacks.

12.2 What happens if I say something inappropriate during mediation?

If you say something inappropriate during mediation, it may negatively impact the process and strain the relationship between both parties. It’s important to apologize and refocus the conversation on productive and respectful communication.

12.3 Should I bring up my ex-spouse’s past behavior during mediation?

Bringing up past behavior may escalate tensions and hinder progress. Instead, focus on the present and future, emphasizing the child’s best interests and finding practical solutions.

12.4 Can I use emotional language to emphasize my points?

While it’s important to express your emotions, it’s crucial to do so constructively and respectfully. Avoid using emotional language that may be seen as manipulative or confrontational. Focus on objective communication to convey your concerns effectively.

12.5 How can I ensure I communicate effectively during mediation?

To communicate effectively during mediation, practice active listening, express your emotions constructively, and avoid negative language or personal attacks. Be open to compromise and collaboration, maintain a calm demeanor, and respect the confidentiality of the process.

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