Frequently Asked Questions
1) What goes into a “Parenting Plan”?
Here are some of the decisions/issues a Parenting Plan can address:
- How will communication be handled? E.g. email, phone, text?
- What decisions will be shared? How will they be made?
- Will you both agree to the other parent’s autonomy when children are with that parent?
- When will the children be with each of you?
- What wil be the logistics of transferring children? Be specfic. What time? Who will transport? Will children have eaten first? Who will oversee homework? What things are expected to return with them?
- What will be done if a scheduled visit cannot take place?
- How will each holiday and school vacation be divided? Be specific about times.
- When will the children and nonresident parent talk on the phone?
- How long can each parent take children away on vacation? How much notice should be given the other parent? Should the vacationing parent provide an itinerary and emergency phone numbers?
- Try to agree on some basic rules for both homes eg on discipline, bedtimes, homework, screen time.
- How will children continue their relationships with the non resident parent’s family?
- Who will go to parent teacher conferences, and how will information about school progress be shared?
- What activities will children continue eg music lessons, sports teams, camps? How will they be paid for?
- How will the children be supported?
- How will medical, dental, child care, and college bills be paid?
- How will further disputes be resolved?
2) What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process by which you and your spouse can negotiate the terms of your separation or divorce in a cooperative, non-adversarial setting, with a minimal investment of time, money, and emotional energy. The mediation process results in a settlement that becomes the basis for your legally binding separation or divorce agreement. A divorce mediator is bound to be impartial and nonjudgmental. The mediator will help you create a separation agreement so that you can plan for the future, and if you have children so that you can develop or continue a good relationship with them. In the process of the mediation you and your spouse will learn how to recognize and overcome impasses and reach decisions regarding support, division of property, and parenting arrangements, with the hope of preserving your relationship for the years of shared parenting ahead.
3) What are the Advantages of Mediation versus Litigation?
1. Cost and Time Efficient
Mediation saves time, money, and emotional energy. It avoids the cost and time of adversarial litigation. Because you know the fee involved and because you can decide how quickly you want to proceed, rather than the court, you can control the total cost. While you can only move as fast as the slower party, you are not subject to the Court’s calendar.
2. Preservation of Future Relationship
Real communication can begin between spouses in conflict with a mediator in control of the process. As you and your spouse deal directly and openly with each other, you gain negotiation and communication skills that will help your future relationship to continue with reduced conflict. Mediation emphasizes the future and allows you to move forward from the painful and angry conflict of the past to a civil and respectful co-parenting relationship.
3.Self Determination/Future Focused
In mediation each of you is empowered to control your own future, rather than your lawyers or a judge, and since you have shared in the negotiation process you are more likely to abide by the agreement. In addition, as you work together to forge better individual futures, and a joint future sharing the parenting of any children, there is a lessening of conflict, an emotional processing of separation and loss, and the beginning of acceptance and closure.
4. Children’s Best Interests
Divorce mediation provides a neutral setting in which to come to an agreement that meets each person’s and child’s unique needs.
Reducing conflict is what is best for children and mediation can reassure your children that the two of you can still work together to care for them in a way that models respect and civility, even under stressful situations.
5. Open Communication
Unlike divorce litigation, mediation encourages open communication, with each person not only speaking up for their own needs, but listening to their spouse’s needs as well. Often in a marriage spouses don’t feel heard. Mediators help couples learn new ways to resolve conflict and develop a better understanding of each other’s realistic needs.
6. Creative Parenting Arrangements
Instead of having to adopt an arbitrary, court-ordered schedule, you can thoughtfully develop your own parenting arrangements. You know your children and family best, and you can devise the best plan that will work, and that can grow and change over time as the children do.
Issues you would prefer kept out of court – for example, financial details or custody issues – can be resolved in a private, neutral setting. A mediator cannot be subpoened to appear in court and the conversations and documents produced in mediation prior to the final Separation or Settlement Agreement are considered confidential because connected to settlement discussions. This should serve to reassure participants in mediation that they are in a safe space, where full disclosure is not only encouraged, but expected.