There are two types of mediation: asset division and child custody. Child custody mediation focuses on setting up a visitation and parenting plan for parents who are getting separated. If you and the other parent agree, mediated child custody disputes could be a faster and cheaper alternative.
Mediation works by putting you and your ex-partner in a room with a trained dispute resolution counselor. This person goes between the two of you facilitating communication and compromise. This is a non-adversarial approach, which reduces tensions and encourages both of you to find a solution. This ensures that no one feels left out the process.
A non-adversarial approach is ideal because it allows you and your ex-partner to stay on good terms. For better or worse, you both will raise your children together. An amicable separation is preferred over a nasty divorce.
Additionally, since it is you two working together you can often arrive at solutions in hours or days ? rather than months. Courts take a while to arrive at conclusions because there are dozens of rules designed to ensure fairness in the process. Mediation is more fluid.
Since mediation is quicker, it is also cheaper than going through the courts. Usually it is significantly cheaper because you avoid hours of attorney fees and court costs. You may still want to hire an attorney to review the mediation agreement to ensure that it is fair to you and your children.
If you are breaking up with your partner or considering divorce, then you may want to speak to an attorney. Prenuptial and cohabitation agreements can only divide assets and debts, it cannot typically allocate visitation or custodial rights over children. These agreements can recommend solutions, and if the parents agree, those solutions can set the stage for the visitation agreement. But ultimately, the court retains authority over what is in the best interests of the child. An attorney can help you prepare for this process.