Even in the best of circumstances, divorcing your spouse can be stressful. Separating a shared life and negotiating how you will move forward in terms of property division, spousal support, and other legal matters can be an overwhelming process. When you share children together, however, it is natural to feel like the stakes are especially high.
While coming to an agreement about child custody and child support can feel especially fraught, it is perhaps even more important to work toward preserving a good working relationship with your ex if you have children. Despite your reasons for ending your marriage, you will always be connected through your children. Except in cases where one parent is abusive or otherwise unable, unfit, or unwilling to parent, it is in the best interests of your children to attempt to work together toward an amicable agreement.
This can be done through mediation, in which both parties agree to work out a solution with the assistance of a neutral third party. While in some cases mediation will not be possible or even preferable, in most cases mediation can be beneficial for all involved. Moreover, it can build a foundation for you and your ex to co-parent together. Here are some of the benefits of mediation for co-parenting:
Mediation Can Reduce Conflict
Many people assume that divorce is an inherently contentious process where you and your ex sit on opposite sides and fight over who will get what out of the divorce. Divorce mediation, however, is a process that helps divorcing parents make decisions collaboratively, hopefully avoiding the need for direct intervention from the court. This form of alternative dispute resolution allows parents to resolve conflicts in a respectful and non-confrontational manner.
Because the goal of mediation is not to adjudicate past wrongs but rather to build a better future, the end result is more likely to preserve a forward-thinking mentality. Instead of seeing each other as adversaries, mediation allows parents to see each other as working on the same team for the sake of their children.
Mediation Can Improve Communication Skills
Instead of fighting against each other, divorce mediation provides a forum for both parties to communicate their needs and desires and come to an agreement that is beneficial for everyone involved, but most importantly for their children. Through mediation, each parent is provided with the opportunity to listen to the other’s point of view and to build trust through respectful dialogue.
By practicing these communication skills during the mediation process, parents can work to reduce misunderstandings and resolve their disagreements amicably. Ultimately, these skills can help them to co-parent more effectively after the proverbial dust has settled.
Mediation Gives You Both More Control
Divorce mediation can also help parents retain control over their co-parenting agreement. Rather than being compelled to follow a court-ordered decision about which you had very little say, mediation offers parents the opportunity to work together to come up with a parenting plan that meets the needs of their children and that works for both parents. Mediation recognizes that different families have unique needs and allows you to work toward creative solutions that fit those needs.
While the nature of mediation will necessitate a willingness to compromise, mediation nevertheless also allows parents a degree of flexibility and autonomy that is likely to be impossible if your divorce must be resolved by a judge. Rather than having a parenting plan handed down to you, mediation can allow you and your ex to decide what works best for your family.
When Mediation Isn’t Working
Despite the benefits of mediation, especially for co-parents, it is not always possible. In some cases, mediation simply doesn’t work. In a previous blog, we wrote about how mediation might not always be the best path forward. This is especially true if one spouse has a history of domestic violence or if one spouse is particularly uncooperative and/or unwilling to compromise. In those cases, it will likely be necessary to adjudicate your divorce before a judge.
Regardless of whether you would like to pursue mediation in order to preserve a positive working relationship with your ex or whether you feel your divorce may become especially contentious, the experienced divorce attorneys at Lane & Lane, LLC are committed to helping you find the best path to protecting you and your children’s best interests.
If you would like to learn more about divorce mediation, contact us online or call us at (908) 259-6673 to schedule a consultation.