Divorce can be a complicated process. When children are involved, divorce can often be intensified by disputes arising over child custody and visitation. Negotiating a child custody and visitation schedule comes down to renegotiating the family relationship. Divorcing parents need to figure out how to re-establish their relationship as “just” parents so that their kids can be “just” kids.
How Courts Look at Custody
There is no one size fits all solutions in creating workable parenting plans. At the core of a good plan is what is in the best interest of the child(ren). Generally speaking, the courts are going to favor children having frequent and continuing contact with both parents, unless one or both parents have a history of abuse or other behaviors that could endanger a child. Other factors to be considered are:
- The age of the child and stage of development
- Emotional, social and educational needs of child
- Health, welfare and safety of child
- Quality of parent-child relationships
Custody and Mediation Tips
While some parents can determine a custody and visitation schedule on their own others need the help of a professional to review and negotiate their parenting plan. The following are a few child custody mediation session tips to get the most out of your mediation session:
- Check your emotions at the door. It is difficult to focus on what is in the best interest of your child when all you want to do is air your dirty laundry and harbor resentment toward your spouse.
- Choose your words carefully. Do not engage in back-and-forth banter with your spouse as it will be counterproductive. Trust that your mediator has extensive experience and will see through unreasonable requests. Keep the focus on your child(ren).
- If you have valid concerns about the other parent’s ability to care for your child(ren), or to manage a specific schedule, do bring that up. Be open to listen to the mediator’s suggestions or advice as to how to move forward most productively.
- Be firm. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself and what you think is in the best interest of your child(ren). While you need to be flexible you do not need to agree to something you feel is unreasonable.
- It is important to listen to your spouse, the mediator, and your children. No parenting plan is going to make everyone happy, but the goal is to reach an agreement that is 80% acceptable to all parties.
A good divorce mediation attorney or other professional will assist you and your spouse in staying on topic and in considering a variety of options that might work for your family. At Green Giraffe Legal, our team promotes child custody mediation as it truly puts the focus on the best interest of the kids.
While you can divorce your spouse, if you have children, you will still need to find a way to parent with your spouse for the benefit of your child(ren). Approaching child custody and visitation from a mediation standpoint is a good start at reestablishing your relationship with your spouse as a co-parent.