Guided Problem-Solving

Pasadena Child Custody Mediator

Make the Best Decisions for You & Your Children

Parents are encouraged to reach an agreement between them concerning the parenting plans and timeshare schedules pertaining to their children. If they are unable to do so, a custody order may be made by the court, but this is not ideal for anyone. In fact, the following is an excerpt from an article by Hon. Thomas Trent Lewis, Supervising Judge Family Law Division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court titled Helping Families By Maintaining A Strong Well-Funded Family Court that Encourages Consensual Peacemaking: A Judicial Perspective:

“The unequivocal research warns us about the impact of parental conflict on children of divorce… Ultimately, whether a family litigates its disputes or resolves then dispute through mediation, parental education on the effects upon children in the midst of a family law dispute advances the goal of ‘mediate when you can, and litigate only when you must.’... The family court is to be a last resort for family resolution…. When personal safety is not at issue or compromised, mediated and collaborative negotiated resolution of disputes can achieve favorable and more durable outcomes for parents and children.”

In approximately 90% of cases in the United States where parents are no longer in intact romantic relationships, they are able to agree on a parenting plan and timeshare agreement without forcing things into litigation that can devastate the relationships of parents, children, and extended family members.

In California, these issues are referred to as child custody and visitation. Pasadena Mediator Mark B. Baer prefers not to use such terms because they are considered fighting words. If interested, you may read his articles titled “The Power of Words” and “Parents Should Think Twice Before Engaging in a Custody Battle Over Their Children.”


Call (888) 844-9530 to talk to our family law mediator in Pasadena today.


Primary Custody vs. Shared Custody

All child custody decisions are to be based on the best interests of the children, no matter the details of the case. Sole custody arrangements may consist of exclusive custody, meaning both legal and physical custody for one parent. Sole physical custody means that the child resides with and is supervised by one parent. Sole legal custody gives one parent the exclusive right to make decisions about the child's health, education, and welfare.

Joint custody arrangements can consist of pure joint custody, in which both parents care for and make decisions about the child; joint legal custody, where both parents have the right and responsibility to make decisions about the child's welfare; and joint physical custody, where the child lives with both parents in accordance with a timeshare schedule.

Generally speaking, shared parenting of some sort is in the children’s best interest. According to clinical child psychologist and researcher Joan B. Kelly, Ph.D., there is no evidence that parental conflict is any different in primary custody situations versus shared custody situations. In other words, do not avoid shared custody arrangements because of parental conflict, especially since the research shows that children tend to be more satisfied and excel in shared custody situations.

Shared Parenting is not the same as Equal Parenting. There is no evidence to suggest that Equal Parenting is in the best interest of the children. Shared Parenting means that no parent has less than a 33% timeshare. There is little doubt that children are more satisfied and excel when they are loved and cared for by both parents in a shared parenting arrangement. This should be the focus of mediation sessions with Mark B. Baer.

For those interested, in 2015, what Mark considers a “must read” article titled "Shared Physical Custody: Does It Benefit Most Children?” was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Although Baer has published several articles on the distinction between Shared Parenting and Equal Parenting, the best article he’s read on the topic is by Karen Covy and is titled “Shared Parenting v. Equal Parenting: 5 Ways the New Laws Will Hurt Kids.”

The Damage of Custody Battles

Almost all parents claim that their children mean more to them than anything else in the world. Inadvertently, many of those same parents cause their children trauma. High levels of parental conflict can cause childhood trauma. In marriage or divorce, it is the chronic and/or toxic parental conflicts that are extremely harmful to children – not divorce itself.

A great deal has been written about the fact that when spouses feel compelled to win their arguments with each other they end up losing their relationship. If the need to win arguments was destructive to the marriage, then fighting to prove a point or win an argument as co-parents is going to be even less well-received.

Conflict is a fact of life and occurs for a variety of reasons, such as differing perspectives, priorities, or solutions to a problem. For example, there are different ways to parent kids. Parenting styles are a matter of perception. Children benefit from your differences as much as they benefit from your similarities. Unless your parenting differences are endangering your child, then don’t allow those differences to become a source of chronic/toxic conflict. Because we know for sure that chronic/toxic conflict is distressing – and often traumatic – for kids.

Healthy conflict is inevitable and, when handled skillfully, is growth-producing for kids. Children need parents who are bigger than their problems. Children benefit when co-parents resolve conflict and model mature problem-solving. The end goal is to be better parents to your children and manage conflict constructively.

The American legal system unintentionally aggravates conflict in divorce situations, even though models that are designed to reduce conflict – such as mediation and other collaborative approaches – are available as alternatives. Parents need to understand that what they do, say, and how they act toward the other parent has long-term consequences. The things people do with or without the assistance of their legal representatives have consequences that will last for generations to come.

It is worth noting that the American Bar Association has long been aware of the connection between custody battles and an increase in domestic violence. In fact, as many as 50 percent of disputes relating to child custody involve domestic violence. Furthermore, the following excerpt is from a book titled Marital Separation and Lethal Domestic Violence, which is the first book to investigate the effects of participation in separation or divorce proceedings on femicide (murder of a female), femicide-suicide, homicide, and suicide:

"Collaborative proceedings include mediation and representation by lawyers who practice collaborative law. Mediators do not make decisions on outcomes or impose solutions on the parties. Instead, they facilitate communication and negotiations between the separating parties who jointly make decisions on outcomes that usually are or tend to be positive sum (win-win).

Collaborative lawyers use nonadversarial negotiation tactics, emphasize joint problem-solving, and obtain in writing a commitment from the parties they represent not to attempt to get what they want by threatening to engage in litigation/go to court. If they do, their lawyers, by prior agreement, will no longer represent them.

Adversarial proceedings are those in which the parties and the lawyers who represent them conceive of outcomes as zero-sum (win-lose), perceive each other as enemies or adversaries, and use struggle win-lose tactics appropriate for this perception.

Choice of proceedings (adversarial or collaborative) is fateful because victims and perpetrators of all three types of sublethal and lethal domestic violence tend to be concentrated among those who participate in proceedings that escalate rather than deescalate conflict. Participation in adversarial proceedings increases the intensity of conflict...

Participation in divorce mediation decreases the intensity of conflict and consequently the risk of fatal and nonfatal domestic violence....

Family lawyers can be located on a continuum with collaborative lawyers who decrease the intensity of conflict at one end and highly adversarial lawyers who increase it at the other end....

In a survey conducted by Hadeem and Salem (2006), adversarial lawyers represented a fairly large proportion of the 219 family lawyers included in the family law practitioner sample they selected.... Schneider and Mills (2006) analyzed data from their survey, and this was one of their major findings: 'Compared with civil, criminal, commercial, corporate, property, and other lawyers, family lawyers had the highest percentage of unethically adversarial lawyers.'... Ethically adversarial and unethically adversarial lawyers accounted for almost 40% of the family lawyers in the sample. The corresponding figure for all lawyers is 33%. If the potential for sublethal and lethal violence is greater in destroyed relationships than in continuing collaborative relationships, than lawyers in this sample may be unintentionally increasing the risk of both types of violence 'by engaging... in behavior... that destroys relationship(s).'

The specific context for relationship-destroying negotiations is an adversarial system that, not infrequently, produces fateful zero-sum or negative sum-outcomes for couples caught up in its heavy machinery. In this context, 'uncertainty about the decisions made by judges in any particular case motivates family lawyers to prepare and process all cases as if they were going to court.'"

Ripping families apart just because marriages are over has severe and lasting consequences to the former spouses, their children, the family, future generations of that family, and society as a whole.

Mr. Baer has said time and time again in his writings, the outcomes are determined by the way the "game" is designed. It is important to find ways to make divorce into a less destructive process than it is today.

Mark Baer has written extensively on this subject. Four of his many articles on the topic are "Is the Adversary Model Appropriate or Suitable for Family Law Matters?", " The Waiting Game," " The Perfect Storm: Lawyer Limitations and the Adversarial Model in Family Law," and " Family Law Litigation: The Gift That Keeps On Giving!"

Custody Mediator in Pasadena, California

Mr. Baer is a skilled family law mediator, and has the honors and awards to support the claim. He understands that there is no single solution to resolving issues pertaining to parenting plans and timeshare schedules as no two families in conflict are exactly alike. With a personalized approach to your case, he can better find the amicable solution you and your spouse or domestic partner need to find so badly right now.

You can rely on him to utilize his impressive knowledge that extends well beyond the law itself to assist you in finding the solution you and your spouse or domestic partner need to find so badly right now. Backed by extensive experience and dedication to finding practical solutions, he has much to offer anyone seeking answers, strategies, and actions which will resolve child custody issues.

Need legal help with child custody? Contact Pasadena mediator Mark B. Baer to discuss what is happening. He can assist you with parenting plans and timeshare schedules. Over the years, Mr. Baer has mentored hundreds of individuals in this type of difficult situation, helping them resolve issues pertaining to their children.

The Difference With Our Firm:

  • 25 Years of Mediation Experience

  • Client-Focused Care

  • Customized Solutions Through Mediation

  • Global Awards - 2016 Winner
  • ProVisors Member
  • Avvo Rating - 10.0 Superb Top Attorney: Family
  • Super Lawyers - Mark Baer