It’s a common scenario, when the structure of a family is altered by separation or divorce, issues come up which can benefit from open discussion in order to better understand the new family dynamic.
Without attention, such issues can escalate and further strain family connections. But talking about those issues is difficult. How do you even begin? What happens if conversations spin out of control?
Co-parenting mediation is a process utilized by parents no longer in an intimate relationship together, to come together to communicate with a specific focus – a mutually agreed upon plan for their children. Co-parenting mediation encourages parents to collaboratively work out issues such as how and when the children will spend time with each parent, living arrangements and decision-making for the children. Skilled mediators guide parents and help to clarify what is important to each and address each parent’s concerns. Even when two parents get along and are able to make decisions together, a co-parenting plan creates a framework parents can fall back on if there comes a time when they find themselves at odds with one another. Co-parenting plans are breathing documents. In other words, over time as family situations change, parents may choose to further develop or edit the plan to better suit their current needs.
The idea behind co-parenting mediation is to create a plan that meets the unique needs of a specific family. That’s something that the courts would be hard-pressed to provide. Mediators work together with parents to ensure a quality process and encourage open participation among participants. Mediation services are confidential, voluntary and nonjudgmental. Information shared by mediation participants during a session is private. Sometimes mediation is sought by the parents independent of a court process, other times they may be ordered by the court to attend mediation in hopes of developing a co-parenting plan. In either case, participants may withdraw from the process if they find that mediation is not meeting its intended purpose. Mediators don’t take sides, make decisions, offer opinions or give advice. Instead they seek to learn more about each participant and guide them through a process with the goal of crafting a plan that best suits their family. Co-parenting mediation is also a quicker less expensive option to the more traditional litigation path.