Mediation can be an extremely effective way to bring a marriage to an end and transition into a new way of living. It provides an opportunity for parents to discuss issues that are important regarding their children and it puts them in complete control of decisions including custody and visitation.
Though family mediation requires two people that might struggle to get along in general to work as a team, it allows the two most important people in a child's life to determine what is best for that child. In situations in which both parents place a high priority on the well-being of their child, it is the ideal alternative to litigation.
If you and your soon-to-be-former spouse have chosen mediation as a means of settling your divorce, how should you prepare?
• Be as open-minded as possible. Though there might be hard feelings between you and your former spouse, it is important you listen to one another and be willing to compromise.
• Devise several scenarios in advance so you have room to compromise. Mediation has a better chance of ending successfully when each parent is willing to explore various options. If you come to mediation with a "my way or the highway" attitude, it will help no one.
• Keep in mind that your child's needs might be different than what you want. Despite your anger or resentment toward your spouse, it is important for your child to have a healthy relationship with both parents. Do your best to put aside your feelings in favor or your child's well-being.
• In addition to putting aside your feelings, do your best to focus on your former spouse's strengths. You saw them once and you need to do so again, especially in regard to his or her parenting skills. Even if your child expresses feelings of blame toward your former spouse, you can make an effort to focus on the positive and help your child see the value in his or her relationship with both parents.
What Do You Need to Bring to the Mediation?
• A proposal and at least one alternative for a schedule of custody and visitation
• Information about your child's school and extracurricular activities, your work schedule, and holiday information
• Any other relevant information that could affect the living arrangement for your child. For instance, if your job is in transition or you have concerns about your former spouse relocating, this needs to be addressed during the family mediation.
Dr. G. Douglas Lunsford is a certified Circuit Civil and Family mediator. He has a background in psychology which allows him to bring a unique perspective to mediation sessions. For a faster yet more effective resolution of any civil or family dispute, contact Dr. Lunsford at 813-924-3853 or visit http://herschlaw.com/certified-mediation.html.