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Resolutions for Successful Child Custody Mediations & Co-Parenting

Posted by Jenny R. Stevens | Jun 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Child custody mediation

Co-parenting can be challenging even on the best of days. Trying to parent your child with a person you have chosen to divorce (and most likely do not even like anymore) can feel like the most unnatural thing to do, but it is typically the best thing the two of you can do for your child.

We have many clients who want to initiate a custody modification action because the current situation with their ex just is not working – for them or for the child. In many cases, a modification is certainly warranted and the situations which exist must be changed by a new court order in order to meet the best interests of the child, but that is not so in every case. Sometimes, it is the parents who need to change rather than the custody order or parenting plan.

However, once litigation is initiated, before the case can go to trial, the parties must attend a mediation session to attempt to resolve their differences (and the case) by mutual agreement.  If you are, or someone you know is dealing with a difficult co-parent, these resolutions can help create a more successful mediation for the co-parenting relationship issue before taking the case all the way to trial:

Resolutions for Successful Child Custody Mediation:

  • I will focus on what is within my control, rather than trying to change my ex-spouse/partner.
  • I will not put forth any offer that would offend me if the other side sent it to me/my attorney.
  • I will respect my child's family relationship on both sides of his/her family, and never place an unhealthy priority on only my side of the family.
  • I will listen carefully to the mediator when he/she is explaining a concern expressed by my ex about our children.
  • I will share all relevant information about my children's health, education and well-being that is in my possession. For example: If a doctor has recommended a particular bedtime for the child, provide the name of the doctor and the context for that recommendation.
  • I will remember this mediation is more about my children's life than my own and make decisions accordingly.

Resolutions for Successful Co-Parenting After Mediation:

  • When exchanging the children, I will not make negative “entrance” or “exit” statements. For example: “Can't you ever be on time?” or “Why do you always have to feed him take-out for dinner?”
  • I will not make unreasonable or illogical demands on my ex-spouse/partner. For example: Yelling at or sending angry messages to your ex when he/she is five minutes late for a visitation exchange.
  • I will abide by the parenting plan schedule for my child, but will always remain flexible for when “life happens” or when something comes up our child may want to participate in with my ex during “my time.”
  • I will not discuss parenting decisions or discussions about my ex while the child is present or within earshot.
  • When communicating with my ex in areas where we disagree, I will list fact-based reasons for my opinions, not emotional reasons, and will not expect him/her to respond immediately. For example: “Little Johnny had three cavities at his last dental visit and the dentist has recommended we decrease the amount of sugary snacks he eats during the week.”

While these resolutions are not a guarantee things will get better in a difficult co-parenting relationship, they will be useful in helping you enter mediation in good faith and then to manage your side of the co-parenting relationship in a healthy way for your child.

About the Author

Jenny R. Stevens

Jenny has been certified as a Guardian ad Litem for many years, and she finds her work representing children in private custody litigation to be some of the most rewarding work in the practice of law. These cases, along with her own personal experience with divorce, inspired her to practice family law in a way which focuses not only on the legal aspect of family law, but also on the impact these events have on the individuals involved. Being a wife, mother and stepmother herself, Jenny understands the compassion and sensitivity needed to help guide families through these transitions.

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