If there is one thing family law attorneys, judges and parents have in common, it’s that they all agree that unless circumstances are extraordinary, it should be the parents who decide – together – custody issues and all that it implies. The challenge is these decisions are sometimes made in the middle of or just after a divorce. The environment is sometimes not conducive to calmer conversations.
Fortunately, in recent years, there has been a trend within New York family courts that involve a mediator, a neutral environment and a commitment by all to approach parenting challenges with an open mind, a shared hope for fairness for all – especially the children, and a mutual respect during the process. The goal is to help parents who are divorcing or who have separated work together for the common goal of raising their children in safe and happy environments. That’s something everyone can get behind.
If you’ve chosen or are considering family mediation, here are a few things that will help you prepare for this important decision.
First, you should know that at every point, mediation is a voluntary process. In Rochester, mediation is free. It is also confidential, which allows for a certain comfort in knowing there are no ulterior motives, at least with the mediation process.
So, How Does It Work?
Your mediator will reiterate that he or she is not on anyone’s “side” and that the goal that all should share is finding a solution that works in such a way that supports everyone in the family as it transitions. The goal of the mediator is to help you communicate in such a way that real change can happen. Note that no one is going to “tell you what to do” or even offer advice; rather, it’s about two parents working out a parenting plan based on what they know about themselves and each other.
For instance, if Dad travels once a month to Phoenix for a corporate meeting, it stands to reason Mom would have the kids that weekend. If Mom meets with her girlfriends twice a week for yoga, that can provide a great opportunity for Dad to get some time in with the kids by taking them out to dinner, seeing a movie or just hanging out together binge-watching Netflix. After all, isn’t that what good parenting is all about: give and take, compromise and making the most of the opportunities we have?
Once both parties are satisfied that a compromise is found that benefits everyone’s schedules and needs, that’s it. You may need to meet with your attorneys or the mediator may report the resolution to the courts to be added into the legal documentation. Keep in mind, the mediator won’t reveal anything discussed in your meetings*. What is formally documented are the details of the agreement.
If you’re thinking mediation might be an ideal avenue to pursue, we invite our clients and any potential clients to give our family law attorneys a call today. We can provide the information you need to start the process. It’s bound to be a good choice anytime two parents come together in a way that strengthens the bond with their children and serves as an example of what to do in less than ideal circumstances.
*Any allegations or concerns of abuse of any kind is never confidential.