Children are the highest stakes in a custody battle. People fighting over the children will frequently engage in hostile, angry and vengeful behavior against each other. Emotion overwhelms judgment.
When I mediate child custody cases, I ask each party to bring pictures of their children to the mediation session. Then we tape them to the wall or prop them up against some books in the middle of the conference table.
Whenever a party veers off on a tangent or a rant about something, I let them calm down, then I point to the pictures and say, “Remember why we’re here. It’s all about your children. Let’s figure out what’s best for them.”
This usually focuses everyone’s attention back on solving problems rather than fighting about them.