Can the Mediation Process Help Separated Parents to Make Mutually Agreeable Childcare Decisions?
Even Without Conflicts, Parenting Is a Tough Job; Accordingly, When Parenting Decisions Raise Conflict, Professional Mediation Can Help Separated Parents to Work Through the Conflict and Focus Upon the Best Interests of the Child.
Obtaining Mediation Services May Help to Ensure That Parents Address Parenting Issues In a Manner That Best Serves the Interests of the Child
Through the mediation process, parents as the parties within a dispute are provided with a negotiation environment that is conducive to respectful discussion regarding different views and wants relating to the upraising of children. A professional mediator assists the parents with the effort to explore parenting options and to find a consensus that is mutually satisfying and agreeable.
A parenting plan outlines how parents will raise children after separation or divorce. The parenting plan describes how parents who are living apart will care for, and make important decisions about, the children while within either home of the parents. Parents can agree to any type of parenting arrangement; however, the focus should always be upon establishing an arrangement that is in the best interests of the children.
With a mediated parenting plan, both parents are able to constructively contribute to decisions affecting the schooling, the participation within sports, and the other activities, of the child. Parents may also use mediation to assist with decisions involving healthcare, medical treatment, and religious, upbringing of the child.
What Is Meant By the Best Interests of the Child?
The law states that in any issue where a child is involved, decisions must be made based upon the “best interests of the child”. In a parent separation situation, the concern of best interests of the child comes into play in many respects including concerns for parenting time as well as the decision making relating to important issues.
How Are Concerns For the Best Interests of the Child Approached?
Each and every child is uniquely different; and accordingly, the circumstances, the needs, and thus the best interests of each child are uniquely different. As the best interests of each child may differ, reviewing and considering the needs and best interests of each child, as independent individuals, is necessary and the following factors should be taken into account:
- The age of the child;
- The developmental stage of the child;
- The need for a sense of safety, stability, and security, of the chld;
- The capacity and willingness of each parent to provide for the nurturing of the the child.
- The emotional bond between each parent and the child; and
- The desires and wishes as expressed by the child.
What Makes the Establishing of a Parenting Plan So Important?
For most separated couples with children, the immediate, as well as the long-term, parenting arrangements are the most important concerns within the mediation process with the goal of a formal, legally enforceable, written agreement whereas, even though the parental couple is separating, the parents will forever be the parents of the child. Accordingly, the separation requires the parents to establish a respectful relationship that enables the parents to separate while at the same time enabling the parents to effectively co-parent.
A parenting plan established within the respectful environment of the mediation process helps to ensure that separating parents will remain respectful and will be able to enjoy future concerns such as attending birthdays, graduations, weddings, and other celebrations, harmoniously.
What Issues Can a Mediated Parenting Plan Address?
The mediation process can provide the environment necessary to help separating parents address issues such as:
- The primary custody and residence of the child;
- The access to the child by the parent without primary custody;
- The appropriate child support payable by the parent without primary custody;
- The topics appropriate or inappropriate for discussion in front of the child;
- The exchange of possessions of the child to occur during the back-and-forth between parents;
- The consent to travel out of the country for vacations with the child; and
- The involvement of step-parents, step-siblings, or other new relationships, that may arise whereas each parent may take on a new partner.
Essentially, the mediation process can be helpful to every issue in dispute between separating parents, among others.