Divorce, court and children
It is an interesting paradox that in “divorce” court, the criteria used in determining “children’s” issues, (ie: custody, parenting time, holidays, vacation, travel) is the “best interests of the child.” Yet, in Court is that really the way in which cases are handled? Is that criteria followed? There are so many problems inherent in parenting, that litigation does not allow for the proper airing of same. The expenses of Children’s Attorneys (appointed by the Court); Forensic Evaluators (appointed by the Court); Court hearings and eventual trial on these issues will drain the monies that most families have, usually saved for the same children. In addition the time constraints of the judicial system do not allow parents the opportunities to advocate for their children, but rather places those issues in the hands of attorneys and Court personnel, looking to resolve this matter and get to the next matter on the calendar. That is not to say that the Judiciary does not attempt to resolve these issues, but time (the enemy of litigation) does not permit the parties to put all of their thoughts regarding their children on the table. Many times clients simply do not have the funds to proceed. There is no more important issue that goes through the Court system than the safety and custody of children, yet the time allowed for same is minimal and the creativity allowed in mediation is not possible in the Court system. This is not a case where a monetary award will decide the case one way or another but rather a matter involving the heart and soul of a family. The trepidation a party feels when they put their lives in the hands of counsel, the Court or a lawyer appointed to represent their child can be alleviated through mediation.
In mediation all issues regarding the children are discussed in a frank and open atmosphere. With therapists on hand, the mediator is able to discuss all of the issues that frankly can intimidate a parent going through the transition of divorce or separation. An openness based upon the confidentiality of the mediation, the fact that nothing said can be used in litigation, and the fact that the parties speak for themselves and their children allows for a more open discourse that without the scars of litigation will allow the parties to actually come up with a plan that is in the “best interests of the children”.
The most common refrain after a Court appearance by a litigant is; “my lawyer went in with the other lawyer, came out and told me the next date we had to be back.” The discussions, despite the necessity of an appearance by the parties, is oft times held in a conference room without you, your spouse or your children. Yet they are discussing the future of YOUR children.
Put aside your emotional pain or even anger with your spouse and discuss this issue. The results of your decision will create your child, will shape your child and may determine the ultimate fate of your child. Look at your spouse as a future partner, solely as a parent. Remember, until that child is emancipated, that child will be part of the lives of both of you and your eventual extended families. Beyond that, weddings, baby showers, and other family events will be part of both of your lives. Freezing your spouse out of the child’s life will not benefit either yourself or the child. The Court’s are becoming more and more concerned about parental alienation and it is important for the children that you both try to remain on the same page.
With the booming advent of autism, ADD, ADHD, and the like, the importance of both parents understanding the nature of the children’s needs and the way to handle them is most important.
Continuing communication equally important.
Mediation allows you to have conversations that are creative, honest and address each parent’s unease. All of your concerns will be heard, and as stated above a health professional can be brought in if the issues need medical and/or therapeutic involvement. As it regards your children, you owe it to them to try to respect each other. It is often said that children learn what they live and you have the opportunity to show them the right way to do things. You will protect your future and your children’s future and will not have another individual decide with who or where your child resides.
It saves you time, money and aggravation. Your mediations take into account your time and convenience. Be heard on behalf of your child or children; make sure you speak your mind and most importantly let the parents of the child or children decide their future.
Photo credit: Handshake by MIKI Yoshihito (´･ω･), on Flickr