First of all, the Court always has the power to modify visitation for minor children. However, if the parents have agreed privately on a visitation schedule, it is rare for the Court to overrule their decision.

There are a number of benefits from using private mediation. For one thing, it is easier to schedule. The Court process is cumbersome and is scheduled at the convenience of the Court and the Court staff. On the other hand, private mediation is scheduled at the convenience of the parents.

Private mediation results in agreements to which the parties are much more likely to adhere. This has been shown in study after study. I think that when the parents get to talk and work things out, they tend to keep their arrangement; Child custody and visitation in mediation, however, when a Judge rules in the matter then one party or the other tends to be feeling victimized or annoyed at the decision and they sometimes only reluctantly comply. There is less goodwill between the parties when they have someone else rule for them. Comparatively, when the parents go through the typical give and take of negotiating a visitation schedule they often see the common ground with their co-parent as they sort out what they want, what they think is best for the kids and what their co-parent desires.

Another benefit is that the parents may bring up more delicate issues in private mediation because it is confidential. Nuances about subjects like the grandparents, new relationships, and the actual developmental needs of the children can be discussed more freely in private mediation because it is a confidential process whereas the Court process is not confidential.

Finally, another benefit which frequently occurs in private mediation is that couples learn firsthand that they can work together and solve problems for the benefit of their children. This is invaluable because many couples argue in circles and rarely resolve matters without massive power struggles and mediation can show them another way of communicating.