9 Questions to Ask a Divorce Mediator About Child Custody Agreements

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted April 4, 2024

Building a child custody agreement is one of the most delicate stages of a modern divorce. In Colorado, most divorces with children favor joint custody, in which both parents share equal custodial time with the children. This is designed to help children maintain an equal bond with both parents, keeping a dual support system that does not favor either parent as the primary guardian.

Of course, every family is also unique. The exact details of your child custody agreement should reflect the availability, safety, distance, and connection shared between parents and children. One of the most important stages in planning a child custody agreement is asking questions. It’s important for parents to ask questions and fully understand the outcomes when planning a child custody agreement. At Split Simple, our mediator-attorneys are ready to provide guidance and problem-solving you need to build a robust and family-supportive custody agreement. 

The following nine questions can help you discover what you most need to know about building a child custody agreement through Denver divorce mediation.    

1) How Does a Mediator Build Child Custody Agreements?

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A Denver divorce mediator works with both parents to determine the best care available for shared children. Unless there are reasons otherwise, custody agreements begin with a baseline of evenly shared joint custody in which the child spends equal time with both parents. Stability is prioritized, seeking schedules that provide both split parenting time and a consistent schedule, especially during the school year. 

Mediators will then adapt the basic joint custody agreement to parental work schedules and children’s recreational schedules. This can help build a routine where children can easily transition between parental time during their weekly or monthly routines. Lastly, room for growth is built in where possible so that when parental or children’s schedules change over time, it is easy to rebalance the routine to remain fair and simple to implement.

2) Is There Child Support with Joint Custody?

Child support is based on a combination of income difference and overnights. Therefore, there can be a child support agreement even if parents share time equally in a joint custody agreement. This can happen if one parent has a significantly higher income than the other to ensure that children’s quality of life is similar with both parents, and that parenting is not an unreasonable financial burden on the parent with a lower income level.

However, in situations where both parents earn a similar amount of money and share joint custody, child support is not typically included in the custody agreement.

3) How Do We Cause the Least Disruption for the Children?

Most child custody agreements focus on minimizing disruption for the children. Priorities include keeping children in the same school district, in their childhood home, or in the same home for the duration of the school week. This reduces chaos experienced by children during critical learning and formative times.

To keep children in the same schools, both parents will ideally live within the school district. Children do not necessarily need to stay in the same house, but some parents will go so far as to swap who lives in the house instead of moving the children between separate homes. Week-long to month-long blocks are also advised to ensure children are not constantly in a nomadic state between parental homes.

4) Can Kids Voice Their Custody Preferences in Divorce Mediation?

The preferences of children and teens should be considered in how child custody schedules are built. Denver divorce mediation provides a safe venue for children to participate in a special session where they can share their feelings and thoughts about what lies ahead. The Denver divorce mediator will listen and perhaps ask a few questions, then consider the children’s feelings when helping parents to build a custody schedule.

In this way, children can safely be part of the discussion compared to the more intimidating setting of a courtroom divorce.

5) What If One Parent Lives Farther Away?

Parents don’t always control whether they live near or far from their starting place. Jobs, family circumstances, and other factors can cause a move even before the divorce is done. If one parent lives further away when the custody agreement is drafted, your Denver divorce mediator can help to build a schedule that considers longer travel and the need to work around the children’s school stability. In this case, the more distant parent will be granted more weekends, summer weeks, and other vacation time in order to balance out parenting time.

The custody agreement can also include a requirement for regular digital contact so that the distant parent is guaranteed phone and video chat contact during the week to maintain regular involvement in children’s day to day lives.

6) Can One Parent Move Away?

One of the most difficult situations after a divorce is when one parent needs to move away. Distance can distrupt the balanced routine you initially built and throw your custody agreement into confusion. With a little foresight, however, your Denver divorce mediator can help you deal with this possibility. If you see a chance of relocation in the future, discuss ways to build the custody agreement to adapt. You might write a more loosely defined structure for joing custody or include a different schedule distribution should one parent need to move further away.

7) Can Grandparents Be Part of a Child Custody Agreement?

Many working parents rely on grandparents to help with child care. Grandparents may have also played an important role in raising the children and you may want them officially included in the child custodyagreement. While guardianship is unnecessary when both parents are available, you can name grandparents as trusted caregivers and use the homes of grandparents as an agreed drop-off and pick-up point when transitioning from one parent’s time to another.

8) Can You Set Safety Requirements for Child Custody Time?

Are you worried that your ex’s solo lifestyle is not a safe environment for children? This is a normal concern, not everyone naturally builds a child-safe environment in their home after a divorce. The best approach to this concern is to discuss environmental requirements for the children to overnight in each home. Simple preparations like beds in a private room, food in the pantry, and a basic level of cleanliness are things that both parents can agree to hold each other to. You may also want to include matters like ‘no strangers in the house’ while the children are overnighting and an option to have a video call if one parent can’t meet the requirements for a visit or two.

9) How Do We Plan for Schedule Changes in the Future?

Lastly, your Denver divorce mediator can help you plan a child custody agreement with an eye toward the future. Children grow up, their tastes change, and their schedules fill with extracurricular activities. Parents experience job changes, new locations, and relocation. When this happens, a well-writted custody agreement sates we are all people. 

To learn more about Split Simple and our family-friendly Denver divorce mediation, Contact Split Simple today.

Split Simple

1624 Market Street #202

Denver, CO 80202