The most important thing for success is for you to come to the Cooperative Family Mediation session with an open mind. Be willing to listen, not just hear what is being said. Parents who are open and listen to the other parent, their attorney, and the mediator are the ones who are able to reach an agreement and develop a mutually satisfactory parenting plan. When one or both parents believe that there is only one solution to a custody and visitation issue, it is usually difficult to reach a compromise. If you come prepared to be open, you can brainstorm options until you find a solution that works for everyone, especially your children.

Come to your Cooperative Family Mediation prepared with several options regarding time sharing schedules. Talk to your attorney before the mediation regarding different options and the possible result if a judge is compelled to make these decisions. Think about and write down your proposals and questions so that you can refer to them during the mediation. You do not want to forget to discuss something that is important to you.

Cooperative Family Mediation is not the place to focus on your history with the other parent. Mediation usually breaks down when parents begin to rehash old marital arguments. Instead, Cooperative Family Mediation is a place to focus on the future and resolve your parenting issues. Be prepared to communicate about your children and your perception of their specific needs. If you are concerned the other parent might let your children stay up too late on school nights, talk about their need for routine and structure. If you are concerned the other parent will not take your son to practice regularly, talk about how important the sport is to your son and the values he learns from the game. In considering these issues, it is also very important to be open to what you might need to change for your children's benefit.

Bring a sense of humor to session. At times during Cooperative Family Mediation, things get tense. This is natural as both parents are concerned about their child. Try to maintain a perspective that balances your desires, the other parent's desires, and your children's needs. While this is your goal, it is not always easy. If things get tense, remember you are there for your children. You do not have to like the other parent to make an agreement on their behalf. When things get tense, listen to the mediator's advice and consider it. Recognize that your mediator's job is to help you balance your children's needs and each of your desires. She does this while encouraging you to reach a parenting solution. Sometimes a humorous, but not rude, comment will ease the tension and help everyone refocus on developing a solution that is best for your children.

Most importantly, remember to focus on your children. Make sure you understand and stay focused on your children's needs. Honestly evaluate whether your proposals are in your children’s best interest or just your best interest, as those interests do not always coincide. Be open to different ideas and be willing to compromise to reach a peaceful solution that is in the best interest of your children.