Divorce, no doubt, is a difficult and emotional process for the divorcing couple; but it can also be especially hard on the children of the divorcing couple who often feel caught between two people they love and depend upon.
Although a marriage is over upon divorce, if there are children involved, a partnership still exists. Co-parenting is the process of raising children after divorce. It involves two parents working together to provide safe, stable, and loving homes for their children. Co-parenting can obviously be challenging, but co-parenting effectively and respectfully is especially important for the well-being of children.
Divorce mediation, a process in which the parties use a third-party neutral to settle upon the terms of their parenting plan, is an excellent process option when the divorcing parents want to make sure they put their children’s well-being at the forefront.
The Challenges of Divorce and Co-parenting and How Mediation Can Help
The tough reality is that divorce brings emotional, financial, and logistical challenges. Unfortunately, these cannot be avoided in their entirety.
Divorce can be a very emotional time for parents and children. Parents may experience anger, sadness, grief, and guilt. Children may feel scared, confused, and angry. Divorce can be expensive. Parents may have to pay for legal fees and child support, and maintaining two households is certainly more expensive than maintaining one. Logistically, divorcing and divorced parents may have difficulty coordinating schedules and transportation.
One of the goals of divorce mediation in Northern Virginia is to ease the burden of these challenges.
Divorce mediation helps parents communicate effectively because it provides a safe and neutral space for parents to talk about their concerns and work together to find solutions; therefore, stress is reduced. Divorce mediation can help parents reach agreements that are in the best interests of their children. Mediators are trained to help parents focus on the needs of their children and assist the parents in making decisions which will work for them and meet their children’s emotional and financial needs.
Divorce mediation can help parents avoid a lengthy and costly court battle. When parties are able to settle the issues arising from their divorce without litigating, they are, almost universally, able to save money on legal fees.
Mediation can help parents coordinate their schedules and settle transportation concerns, Mediators see the logistical issues which arise when a couple transitions from being a single parenting unit to co-parents and will work with the divorcing couple to develop a parenting schedule that takes the needs and concerns of both parents’ schedules and the children into account.
Preparing For and Things to Keep in Mind During Divorce Mediation
The first step a divorcing couple who decides to go the mediation route needs to take is to choose their mediator. There are many different mediators available, so it is important to choose one who is a good fit for you and your situation. Be sure to choose someone who is well-versed in Virginia law as it relates to parenting as well as someone who is sensitive to the emotional issues which relate to developing a parenting plan.
Before your first mediation session, it is helpful to gather information about your finances, your child’s needs, and your parenting goals. Try to understand the reasons behind your goals. Know where you are willing to compromise and where you are not. In that vein, be prepared to compromise. Mediation is a process of compromise. It is important to be willing to give and take in order to reach an agreement.
Finally, remember to be respectful. Mediation is forward-looking. Although everyone will have the chance to be heard, it is important to not be too focused on the behavior or actions which got you to the mediation table. Be respectful of your co-parent and the mediator and understand that your soon-to-be former spouse may be going through a tough emotional time.
Strategies for Successful Co-parenting
When the attorneys at Kales & Kales are successful in helping their mediation clients reach settlement, the divorcing couple has a comprehensive Marital Settlement Agreement, which hopefully will guide the new co-parents on their path forward. There are some guidelines that can help the co-parents succeed:
1. Remember to communicate effectively: Communication is key to successful co-parenting. It is important to communicate openly and honestly with your co-parent.
2. Be respectful: Respect is another important ingredient in successful co-parenting. It is important to respect your co-parent’s parenting style and values. Also remember to be respectful of your co-parent’s time and financial resources.
3. Put the needs of your children first: Always put the needs of your children first. Make decisions that are in their best interests.
4. Be flexible: Even the best Marital Settlement Agreement cannot anticipate all possible parenting scenarios. Things will not always go according to plan. Be flexible and willing to adjust your plans as needed.
5. Be willing to compromise: Compromise is an important part of co-parenting. Be willing to give and take in order to reach agreements that work for everyone.
When a couple divorces, a family changes. Mediation is a divorce process that attempts to limit the negative emotional, financial, and logistical consequences which can occur for their children. If the divorcing couple comes to the mediation table with their children’s best interests in mind and a willingness to compromise and put their children’s needs first, these goals are attainable.
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