Divorcing with Kids:
Why Mediation Might Be The Best Approach.
Getting a divorce is difficult enough without having to consider children, but many couples are faced with the additional stressful decisions of child custody and support when their marriage ends. Typically when a marriage involving children dissolves, custody is the first thing that is determined. Often the parents decide the schedule for the time being while they wait to file, get a Family Court Services date, and then meet with a Facilitator who will then make a recommendation. If you both agree, then you can sign right then and there or the recommendation will be sent to the Judge. The Judge can either take the Facilitator’s recommendation or, if you disagree, you can make an argument and the Judge will make a decision that they believe is in the best interest of the children. If you still disagree then the process begins all over again, but you can only file to amend custody once in a calendar year. Mediation is so much more beneficial when you are dealing with these personal challenges because of the ongoing support.
Children thrive on consistency and stability. When you choose mediation you can meet almost immediately and utilize the professional services to figure out the best custody arrangement for now and then continue to meet as time goes on. You will work together as co-parents to determine the best living arrangement for the children and as they age or as life changes you can use mediation to continue to make decisions in an amicable manner.
Small children are typically with the custodial parent for the majority of the time but as they get older the custody arrangement can become more balanced. Then, as the children get even older and begin high school with many after school activities, the teenagers may want to stay with one parent during the week and rotate weekends in addition to choosing if and when to see their other parent independently throughout the week. Other reasons that custody might change is when one parent moves farther away making mid-week exchanges less convenient. You may also start with a 2-2-3 schedule and decide that a 2-5-5-2 schedule works better for you. A mediator will remind the co-parents to have the children’s best interest at heart when discussing the custody schedule. But again, each parent’s idea of what is in the child’s best interests may differ and the mediator can help you compromise.
Only after custody is determined do financials come into play. When calculating child support the custody is taken into account along with the income of each parent with the intent to keep the child at the same level of living at each home. Child support is to be used for basic needs (rent/mortgage, utilities, food, gas, insurance, clothing, etc) and other expenses should be split
50/50 (out of pocket medical expenses, extracurriculars, therapy, etc). As custody or income changes, so can child support. Going to the court for these estimates and assignments can take a long time, can be confusing, and are not always cost-effective. If a parent isn’t paying support or there are additional expenses that are being debated, a mediator can help resolve the dispute and keep the relationship between the co-parents healthy.
A mediator can be brought back in to help years after the marriage is dissolved to make these amendments whenever needed. By utilizing a mediator for these reasons you will have a consistent facilitator to guide you anytime you need help.
To Learn more about Chief Peacekeeper, Scott Levin, visit his website.