Mediating Custody Issues in Same Sex Couples

  • May 16, 2012

    Same sex couples with children face an uncertain outcome if their custody issues go before a judge.  There is a saying among mediators that “uncertainty is the friend of mediation.”  When the outcome in a court is not predictable, most people prefer to work out a settlement that they can live with rather than risk an unfavorable result.  This is never more true than in cutting edge issues involving civil unions, same sex marriages and parenting issues where only one or neither party is a biological parent.

    All couples have similar concerns when their relationship breaks up.  Where will the children live?  Who will be the primary parent?  Who will support the children?  What sort of parenting time will the non-custodial parent have?  But these issues can take on more complexitiy when the law is less clear. 

    Mediation allows parents to work out an individual plan that fits their needs and the needs of their children.  As in any “divorce”, the goal is to preserve a relationship with both parents and to avoid allowing the anger and hostility that may exist between the adults to infect the environment of the children.  Mediation allows the parties to work out a parenting plan in a safe and calm space, free from the pressures of courtroom deadlines.  Parenting alternatives can be “tried on for size” before any commitment is made.  Even the children’s voices can be heard if the children are of sufficient age.

    There is no “one size fits all” in parenting arrangements.  The parents are in the best position to set the arrangement that will work for them and their children.  And the mediator — whether lawyer or mental health professional — can help the parties to craft the best plan for them and their family.  The plan can also be flexible, allowing for modifications as the children mature or as needs change.

    For more information on mediating custody issues, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or by email at


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