There are a few things on which most divorcing couples with children agree. They each love their children and wish to continue to participate in their upbringing. They want their children to feel secure that they will have a loving home with continued access to both parents and they want their children to reach their greatest potential. In mediation, couples can focus on those values when creating a parenting agreement.
As part of the mediation process, decisions about custody and access to the children will be made. Legal custody refers to decision-making about the children’s health, education and welfare. In most cases, parents continue to share equally in decision-making and arrange to share time with their children according to family schedules. Depending on the ages of the children and their developmental needs, parents may agree on a very detailed schedule for each weekday, weekend, holiday, birthday and school vacation or create a more flexible schedule to suit their lifestyle. The result is a customized shared parenting schedule that can change as the children age.
To achieve the best results, before making these important decisions, parents can ask themselves some important questions. How can we best co-parent our children in order to provide stability and security? What schedule will be the most comfortable for our children as well as attainable for us? How can we help each other meet parenting goals for the benefit of our children? As they age, how do we want the children to perceive and remember how we spoke to or about one another? How can we protect them from the negative aspects of our divorce?
Other issues that can be addressed in a parenting agreement are plans for how and when to introduce significant others to the children and how to maintain consistent routines around meals and sleep in both parents’ homes. Also set forth will be parameters regarding relocation of either parent, agreement about travel, communication, sharing reports and records, etc.
When a couple divorces, a marriage is over but the children of the marriage remain a joint project for life. Putting aside anger and resentment in order to make important life decisions will benefit you and your children. Mediation enables couples to separate issues from their emotions in order to make the best decisions for their families.