In this photo, we see the emotional toll that divorce can take on couples. Divorce rates are highest among couples who have been married for less than 10 years, with the average length of a marriage ending in divorce being just 8 years, child custody

Navigating Child Custody Mediation: Tips From An Experienced Mediation Lawyer

By Bob Matteucci

Determining custody of your children is the most difficult part of getting divorced. You and your former partner both want what is best for your children, but you will likely disagree about what that means. 

Mediation can be a good way to work through the issues you and your child’s other parent are fighting about, and craft a child custody agreement and parenting plan. Relying on a neutral third party to guide you to a solution can take the pressure down a notch and help you lay a firm foundation for your future co-parenting efforts. 

But if you want to get the most out of a mediation experience, there are some things you need to know. Attorney Bob Matteucci has pulled together this list of tips for New Mexico couples who are considering child custody mediation. 

Understand What Mediation Is… And What It Isn’t

Mediation is a professionally facilitated negotiation designed to help the parties in a family law case come to an agreement they can all live with. 

Mediation is often a faster and more economical way to resolve a family law dispute because it is not adversarial. The biggest time and cost savings come from the fact that both parties forgo hiring their own attorneys and instead work with a single mediator — like Attorney Matteucci — who serves as a neutral third party. 

You and your former partner will each provide information about your lifestyle, income, and plans for your child’s future. Bob will then think about what he has learned about your family, and bring you and your former partner together for a mediation session where you will discuss areas of agreement, issues that still need to be resolved, and possible solutions. This can take a couple hours or a couple weeks depending on how well you and your former partner get along, and how complex your custody agreement and parenting plan end up being. 

If the mediation is successful, Bob can take his mediator hat off, put his lawyer hat back on, and draft the legal documents necessary to formalize your proposed child custody plan and have it approved by the judge. 


  • Mediation is a formal process, not a free-for-all. It is a great way to start co-parenting in a positive place.
  • Mediation is not a substitute for therapy, or a way to force a combative ex into being more agreeable. 

Identify What Matters Most To You, Your Former Partner, And Your Child 

Mediation is a great way to craft a child custody agreement because you and your former partner have the shared objective of doing what is best for your child. However, this does not mean that figuring out what is actually best for them (versus what you or your child’s other parent thinks is best) is going to be easy. 

One of the best ways to work towards common ground is to identify what matters most to you, your former partner, and your child going into the mediation. 

For example, rather than getting hung up on the fact that your ex wants the kids to spend every week night at their house, try to figure out why. If you are both coming into the mediation looking for solutions, the demand is probably coming from a place of concern about your child’s ability to manage homework and participate after school activities. Setting your child up for success at school is something you can agree on, even if it means giving up some weeknights with them. 

If you trust the mediator to help you identify the foundational elements that are important to you and your family, you can all work together to build a custody agreement and parenting plan that meets your unique needs. 

Focus On The Future 

One of the reasons mediation is a great way to hammer out your child custody agreement is because New Mexico law strongly favors joint custody. And that doesn’t just mean that your child is going to spend time with both parents. It means you and your former partner are both still responsible for the financial, physical, emotional, and developmental welfare of your child — no matter whose house they are living at on any given day. 

This means you and your former partner are going to have to work together for the foreseeable future. Putting aside your differences and focusing on what is going to help your family in the long-term will make your mediation go much more smoothly.

Serving New Mexico Families with Dignity & Compassion 

Whether you are trying to figure out who gets primary physical custody, where your child is going to celebrate Christmas, what sports your kid is allowed to play, and whether they are going to get the flu shot each year, negotiating a child custody agreement and parenting plan is no easy task. 

Working with an experienced mediator like Attorney Bob Matteucci can be a great way to work through disagreements and start co-parenting from a positive place. 

Please contact us today to schedule a meeting with Bob and the other members of the Matteucci Family Law team.

About the Author
Bob Matteucci is a board certified family law specialist, with a statewide practice in the area of divorce and family law.